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Regional inequalities as drivers of affective polarization

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journal contribution
posted on 22.09.2022, 13:00 authored by Luca Bettarelli, Emilie Van Haute

This paper investigates divergences in levels of affective polarization across Belgian regions around the 2019 elections. Elaborating on the relative deprivation theory, we analyse the role of current and long-term socio-economic regional inequalities and of geographical distance separating regions. Empirically, we aggregate individual-level measures of affective polarization at the Belgian NUTS-3 level and use a gravity approach to explore the determinants of regional divergences. Our results show that regional variations in affective polarization are best explained by a current rural–urban divide and by how regions have performed economically in the last years. We also show that geographical proximity matters and reinforces the effects of economic deprivation.


Luca Bettarelli received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme [Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 801505]. Emilie Van Haute received funding from the FWO-FNRS EoS [grant number 30431006].