Wealth Anxiety and Political Populism in Democracies
Free Public Lecture
The Forum Theatre
T: (03) 8344 0472
This lecture will explore how rising financial fragility and the wealth shocks associated with major financial crises have contributed to the rise of political populism in many countries, with important consequences for domestic politics, international relations and global economic stability.
Households in many emerging and high income countries have become increasingly dependent on risky housing and pension wealth for access to key goods including education, healthcare and retirement services. The rising cost and limits on access to these goods have 'squeezed' many households, producing growing anxiety, perceptions of rising competition for scarce resources, and sometimes threats to their social status and identity. Mainstream political parties are often perceived as having done little to address this anxiety, and in many cases as responsible for it. Populist politicians have seized on this political opportunity and produced new challenges to the domestic and international policy establishment. The lecture will also consider what, if anything, can be done to address these challenges.