Blog Post

Europeans rediscover enthusiasm for globalisation

The general political mood on both sides of the Atlantic seems to suggest declining public support for globalisation, but people in the EU increasingly see globalisation as an opportunity for economic growth. This shift in public opinion coincides with improved economic conditions.

By: and Date: May 4, 2017 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The backlash against globalisation is fuelled by various factors, including xenophobia, job losses, a fear of losing national cultural identity and even the fear of terrorism.  Anti-globalisation advocates propose various economic and cultural protectionist measures, as one can see in the recent election campaigns in the US, the Netherlands and France. On the other hand, leaders of the IMF and World Bank have moved to defend globalisation, while pushing for inclusive policies that would ensure benefits for a wider part of the population, rather than a few. See for example Christine Lagarde’s recent speech.

So what are the attitudes of Europeans towards globalisation? Figure 1 shows the share of respondents who see globalisation as an opportunity for economic growth. It is worth highlighting both the differences across countries and the dynamics of responses over time.

Citizens of northern European countries show by far the largest agreement with the statement that globalisation is an opportunity for economic growth: about 80% of respondents agreed to that in 2016. About 65% of respondents agreed to this statement in three western European and 11 eastern European EU countries, while agreement is about 55% in southern Europe. We singled out France, because French public opinion about globalisation is so different from Germany and other nearby countries. In France, the view that globalisation is good for growth already had much less support in 2009, and support was still relatively low in 2016 too.

The dynamics over time are also note-worthy. In all regions of the EU there was a drop in support for globalisation after 2009, when the economic crisis began to hit the economy and the people. Support is now gradually rebounding in more recent years across all EU country groups, in parallel with an improved economic situation.

Southern European countries experienced the largest drop in respondents agreeing that globalisation is an opportunity for growth in 2009-2012, which was in line with the fall in their trust in democracy and the EU. Since these countries suffered the most from the economic crisis, we cannot exclude the hypothesis that economic troubles damaged public perceptions about the benefits of globalisation and the European project. However, after 2012 the level of agreements starts to rebound, even in France.

What are the socio-economic characteristics of globalisation supporters? Figure 2 shows a clear pattern. In terms of age and education, young people and those who are still studying tend to view globalisation as an opportunity for growth; people aged 55 and more, and those who did not continue education beyond 15 years of age, are much less in favour.

People’s perception of their economic situation also makes a large difference. For instance, 71% of those who almost never have difficulty paying bills agree that globalisation is an opportunity, compared to only 49% of those who have difficulty paying bills most of the time.

Perception of individual political influence, proxied by the statement “my voice counts in my country”, also matters for those viewing globalisation as opportunity. 75% percent of those who think their voice counts in their country also think that globalisation is an opportunity for economic growth, compared to 54% of those who believe that their voice does not count in their country.

Finally, those who view the EU in a positive light are almost twice as likely to agree that globalisation is an opportunity for economic growth.

Thus, it seems (unsurprisingly) that younger and better educated people view globalisation as an opportunity, as well as those in a better economic situation, those feeling political inclusion and those with a positive view of the EU.

Figure 2. EU: Globalisation as an opportunity for economic growth, by socio-economic characteristics, 2016figure 2 globalisation

Source: Eurobarometer. Note: Education ended age 15 means that the person ended education at the age of 15 or earlier.

Question: Please tell me to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Globalisation is an opportunity for economic growth”. Share of those respondents who replied “Totally agree” and “Tend to agree” among those who answered this question, according to certain socio-economic characteristics.

While the two numbers are not fully comparable, we note that Front National gained 24.8% of the vote at the European Parliament elections in 2014, while the Party’s leader, Marine Le Pen came second with 21% of the votes in the first round of the 2017 French Presidential elections.

We noted based on Figure 1 that France stands out from neighbouring countries, consistently having much lower support for the idea of globalisation as an opportunity for economic growth. Interestingly, the French answers to this question move more or less in the opposite direction to the popularity of Marine Le Pen, who is frequently viewed as an anti-globalisation and anti-EU politician (Figure 3). Thereby, the decline in the popularity of Le Pen from 2013-16 is in line with an increase in the French support for the idea that globalisation is good for growth.

Most likely, common causes drive the perceptions about both globalisation and politics, such as immigration, security, cultural identity, and economic troubles. We do not aim to assess the relative importance of these and other possible factors. But it is certainly worth highlighting the coincidence between economic developments and the post-2009 fall and post-2012 increase in the support for the idea that globalisation is good for economic growth (Figure 1). Meanwhile, a recent Bloomberg report shows an astonishing correlation between the share of votes for Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections and the unemployment rate across the various regions of France.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article

Opinion

Chinese banks’ improved asset quality cannot hide other phantoms

The recent improvement in asset quality cannot mask other growing concerns in China’s banking sector. Beyond liquidity concerns, other structural issues such as low profitability and insufficient generation of organic capital, are emerging.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Gary Ng Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 20, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Moroccan job market issues, and labour trends in the Middle East and North Africa

Morocco is an interesting case of structural labour market disequilibrium despite respectable growth, and illustrates the issues facing the region’s oil-importer countries

By: Uri Dadush Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: December 7, 2017
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

The European Union with the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean: where do we stand?

Latin American and Caribbean countries have deep historical, political, cultural, and economic ties with Europe, and cooperation between the two regions has been intensifying recently. Here we report some of the main trends in trade, foreign direct investment, and agreements between the European Union and The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the European Union’s official counterpart in the bi-regional strategic partnership that commenced in 1999.

By: Francesco Chiacchio Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: December 5, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Flexicurity and labour market reforms in Europe

This event will discuss the potential of the flexicurity model as employment strategy and the way it could be implemented in European countries to be successful.

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Philip Collins, Werner Eichhorst, Antoine Foucher, Maria Jepsen and Marco Leonardi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: December 4, 2017
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Brexit: When the banks leave

More than a tenth of the City’s business is now bound to go, but how much worse could things get?

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: December 1, 2017
Read article Download PDF

Working Paper

Returns on foreign assets and liabilities: exorbitant privileges and stabilising adjustments

Large stock of foreign assets and liabilities could foster international risk diversification. US, British and Japanese investors earn high yields on FDI assets, which might also relate to tax, intellectual property and financial sophistication issues. Valuation changes on net foreign assets had a stabilising impact.

By: Zsolt Darvas and Pia Hüttl Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: November 29, 2017
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Sustainable growth in transition countries

This event will feature a presentation of the EBRD Transition Report 2017-18.

Speakers: Jonathan Charles, Zsolt Darvas, Sergei Guriev, Debora Revoltella and Lucio Vinhas de Souza Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: November 28, 2017
Read article Download PDF

Policy Contribution

European Parliament

How should the European Central Bank ‘normalise’ its monetary policy?

During the crisis, the ECB resorted to a number of unconventional monetary tools. This paper discusses how to phase out these policies and what the ‘new normal’ in monetary policy should look like.

By: Grégory Claeys and Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 23, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Vision Europe Summit 2017

The 2017 Vision Summit is titled "The Winners and Losers of Globalisation"

Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: November 14, 2017
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

European worries about isolationist trends

Populist shocks in the UK and US threaten the multilateral order on which the EU depends. What lies behind these earthquakes, and what does it mean for Europe? Withdrawing from the world is no solution to geo-political upheavals, but Europe needs to reassess the future of globalisation.

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: November 7, 2017
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Policy Contribution

Rethinking Franco-German relations: a historical perspective

Franco-German relations as the ‘engine’ of European integration are widely perceived to have stalled in recent years. This policy contribution assesses what the Franco-German relationship can achieve, what its shortcomings are, and what it means for the wider governance of the euro area and the European Union.

By: Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 7, 2017
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Growth, productivity and social progress in Europe

On 26 October, Bruegel is organizing an interactive brainstorming seminar on Growth, Productivity and Social Progress in Europe. This is a closed-door, high-level workshop for a selected number of experts in the field.

Speakers: André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 26, 2017
Load more posts