REGROUP Research Paper nº 3

The Health–Economy Divide: A Structural Analysis of Sectoral Affectedness and Covid-19 Policy Preferences in Europe

Fecha de publicación:
Daniele Caramani, Lorenzo Cicchi and Ana Petrova

REGROUP Working Paper nº 3 (August 2023)

The Covid-19 health emergency and the resulting economic crisis hit European societies asymmetrically, which led to divergent preferences over the policies addressing the emergency. This paper analyses how different economic sectors were affected based on the “essentiality” and “physicality” of their activities, and how the level of affectedness--job losses, furloughs, decreased working hours and salaries--opposed the interests in favour of reopening the economy against the lockdowns dictated by health concerns. We combine a structural approach with an examination of the impact of party identification on citizens’ preferences, and posit that the parties that mobilise groups negatively affected by previous crises take positions toward the economic end of the continuum, in line with the preferences of an electorate that has been negatively affected by the pandemic. Our explanatory models integrate other structural (age, education) and political (trust, attitudes on expertise) factors in an effort to assess if the health–economy divide reordered the European cleavage structure towards material, rather than cultural and post-material, concerns.

Daniele Caramani European University Institute and University of Zürich

Lorenzo Cicchi European University Institute

Ana Petrova European University Institute