EU Transfers and Euroscepticism: Can't Buy Me Love?
University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 289
42 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 1, 2018
This paper investigates whether EU redistributive policies improved the public attitude toward European integration, both in terms of public opinion and in terms of political preferences. We build a new dataset combining data from the European Social Survey, different data sources for political parties’ stances and transfer records from EU institutions. We focus on the regional Cohesion Policy, within which the Convergence Objective program offers a quasi-experimental framework that allows us to single out these effects by means of a regression discontinuity approach. Results show that EU transfers have mitigated the rise of Eurosceptic attitudes and reduced the political consensus for anti-EU parties in long-time recipient regions. We estimate that increasing the regional per capita EU transfers by 1000€ over the 2000-2014 period reduces the share of Eurosceptic individuals by about 8 percentage points and voters’ support for anti-EU parties by 10 percentage points. The effects are homogeneous across different socio-economic groups, including the most disadvantaged ones. Other attitudes that are often associated with Euroscepticism (i.e. anti-trade and anti-immigration stances) are not substantially affected by EU regional transfers.
Keywords: Euroscepticism; EU transfers; EU crisis; Cohesion Policy; voting; regression discontinuity, redistributive politics
JEL Classification: D72, F14, H11, I38
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