Trade shocks and the nationalist backlash in political attitudes: panel data evidence from Great Britain
This article leverages individual-level panel data on nationalist attitudes to contribute to the debate on the (economic) roots of popular opposition to globalization. We propose a ‘nationalist backlash’ hypothesis: Individuals living in regions suffering from stronger import competition form more nationalist attitudes as part of a broad counter-reaction to globalization. Analyzing data from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS), we document not only a decrease in support for EU membership but also a general shift towards more nationalist attitudes among respondents from regions exposed to higher imports from low-wage countries—in particular, China. We thus uncover a direct individual-level response to import shocks in the form of rising nationalist attitudes that helps to explain these shocks’ aggregate electoral consequences in terms of increased vote shares for the radical right.