Does regional economic deprivation shape political attitudes, and if so, why? While globalisation resulted in sharp geographical disparities within nations, the consequences of territorial inequalities for political backlash are disputed. Observational analyses cannot isolate the causal effect of regional variables, and the study of contextual causal mechanisms has been mostly ignored to date. We circumvent these challenges with a pre-registered survey experiment in Great Britain manipulating the saliency of household inequality, regional inequality, and their interaction. Results show that living in a deprived region increases anti-democratic preferences, distrust in government, and populism. The politics of place appears to be particularly consequential for poorer individuals, who articulate significant levels of resentment only when living in deprived areas. Poorer households in well-off regions benefit from improved economic prospects, status, and positive spill-overs, making their attitudes towards the political system indistinguishable from the rich.
Co-authors: Giovanni Facchini, Anja Neundorf and Cecilia Testa
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