The Effect of Austerity Packages on Government Popularity During the Great Recession

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My article “The Effect of Austerity Packages on Government Popularity During the Great Recession” co-authored with Abel Bojar, Hanspeter Kriesi, and Chendi Wang was just published by the British Journal of Political Science. The article is currently available open access here.


During the Great Recession, governments across the continent implemented austerity policies. A large literature claims that such policies are surprisingly popular and have few electoral costs. This article revisits this question by studying the popularity of governments during the economic crisis. The authors assemble a pooled time-series data set for monthly support for ruling parties from fifteen European countries and treat austerity packages as intervention variables to the underlying popularity series. Using time-series analysis, this permits the careful tracking of the impact of austerity packages over time. The main empirical contributions are twofold. First, the study shows that, on average, austerity packages hurt incumbent parties in opinion polls. Secondly, it demonstrates that the magnitude of this electoral punishment is contingent on the economic and political context: in instances of rising unemployment, the involvement of external creditors and high protest intensity, the cumulative impact of austerity on government popularity becomes considerable.