The increasing success of populist and radical-right parties is one of the most remarkable developments in the politics of advanced democracies. We investigate the impact of industrial robot adoption on individual voting behavior in 13 western European countries between 1999 and 2015. We argue for the importance of the distributional consequences triggered by automation, which generates winners and losers also within a given geographic area. Analysis that exploits only cross-regional variation in the incidence of robot adoption might miss important facets of this process. In fact, patterns in individual indicators of economic distress and political dissatisfaction are masked in regional-level analysis, but can be clearly detected by exploiting individual-level variation. We argue that traditional measures of individual exposure to automation based on the current occupation of respondents are potentially contaminated by the consequences of automation itself, due to direct and indirect occupational displacement. We introduce a measure of individual exposure to automation that combines three elements: 1) estimates of occupational probabilities based on employment patterns prevailing in the preautomation historical labor market, 2) occupation-specific automatability scores, and 3) the pace of robot adoption in a given country and year. We find that individuals more exposed to automation tend to display higher support for the radical right. This result is robust to controlling for several other drivers of radical-right support identified by earlier literature: nativism, status threat, cultural traditionalism, and globalization. We also find evidence of significant interplay between automation and these other drivers.

Individual vulnerability to industrial robot adoption increases support for the radical right

Anelli, Massimo;Colantone, Italo;Stanig, Piero
2021-01-01

Abstract

The increasing success of populist and radical-right parties is one of the most remarkable developments in the politics of advanced democracies. We investigate the impact of industrial robot adoption on individual voting behavior in 13 western European countries between 1999 and 2015. We argue for the importance of the distributional consequences triggered by automation, which generates winners and losers also within a given geographic area. Analysis that exploits only cross-regional variation in the incidence of robot adoption might miss important facets of this process. In fact, patterns in individual indicators of economic distress and political dissatisfaction are masked in regional-level analysis, but can be clearly detected by exploiting individual-level variation. We argue that traditional measures of individual exposure to automation based on the current occupation of respondents are potentially contaminated by the consequences of automation itself, due to direct and indirect occupational displacement. We introduce a measure of individual exposure to automation that combines three elements: 1) estimates of occupational probabilities based on employment patterns prevailing in the preautomation historical labor market, 2) occupation-specific automatability scores, and 3) the pace of robot adoption in a given country and year. We find that individuals more exposed to automation tend to display higher support for the radical right. This result is robust to controlling for several other drivers of radical-right support identified by earlier literature: nativism, status threat, cultural traditionalism, and globalization. We also find evidence of significant interplay between automation and these other drivers.
2021
Anelli, Massimo; Colantone, Italo; Stanig, Piero
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4042223
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