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How are Populism and Health Associated in Europe (PHASE)?

A multilevel analysis of the bidirectional interrelationship between populism and ill health

I am honoured and excited to continue as a Marie Curie Fellow from January 2021. I will combine my two main research areas, the political economy of health and democracy. During my fellowship, I will analyse whether individuals’ ill health might be an early warning sign for the deteriorating health of democracies, and how populists in power affect health inequalities, working with David Stuckler at Bocconi University's Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy.

Project summary

The recent surge in populism marks a new phase of European politics posing fundamental challenges to scholars and the policy community. Some argue that existing nationalist and authoritarian attitudes are driving populism. Others posit that it is rooted in liberal institutions’ failure to deliver equal life chances. Once in power, populists tend to discriminate against precarious communities and question the role of expertise in governance. However, there is no systematic cross-country research on the bi-directional association between ill health and populism. The project contributes to the existing knowledge in two ways. Firstly, it crosscuts scholarly polarisations on the causes of populism by posing the original question of whether individuals’ ill health might be an early warning sign for the deteriorating health of democracies in Europe. Secondly, it extends the literature on the impact of populist governance by asking who the winners and losers of populists in power in terms of health in Europe are.

In answer to the first question, the project creates a longitudinal, hierarchical cross-country panel dataset, nesting individuals in EU regions, and measures the impact of ill health on populist support after 2000. In answer to the second question, the project adopts a coding scheme for populist governments in Europe and assesses the variegated impact of populism on peoples’ health using dynamic multilevel modelling. Finally, through a small-N case study, the project analyses the populism – ill health mechanism in detail. The project offers theoretically innovative and methodologically rigorous, cutting-edge contributions to sociology, political science, and public health, as well as to the public debate on populism through a set of outreach activities.

I will update the website as the project develops. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I am happy to discuss.

If you are interested in the Marie Curie Fellowships, this is a good place to start.

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© Created by Noemi Scheiring-Olah.