Globalisation affects not only economic behaviour, but also political attitudes. This paper shows that the attitudes of US presidents ‘travel abroad’, influencing the social norms that the global public rely upon, with the potential to improve or harm race-relationships across the world.Dr Marco Giani
27 January 2020
Racist attitudes in Europe 'increased following US election'
The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency saw an increase in racist attitudes across a number of European countries, research by academics has shown.
Data collected by the European Social Survey (ESS) in the run-up to and after the 2016 presidential campaign showed an increased likelihood of expressing racially-biased views following Mr Trump’s election.
The ESS gathered data on political attitudes across 18 countries, with data from 13 of those countries corresponding with the period of Mr Trump’s election win.
The data was analysed by Dr Marco Giani, lecturer in economics at King’s College London, and Pierre-Guillaume Méon, professor of economics at Universite Libre de Bruxelles, and showed that the probability of survey respondents reporting a racial bias increased by 2.3 percentage points within a 15-day period of the election.
Conversely, the academics found that self-reported racial bias “significantly decreased” in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s first election win in 2008.
Dr Giani said: “Globalisation affects not only economic behaviour, but also political attitudes. This paper shows that the attitudes of US presidents ‘travel abroad’, influencing the social norms that the global public rely upon, with the potential to improve or harm race-relationships across the world."
Data was gathered from the responses to two survey questions: ‘To what extent do you think the country should allow people of the same race or ethnic group as most people of the country to come and live here?’ and ‘How about people of a different race or ethnic group from most people?’ Answers to both questions ranged from ‘allow many’ to ‘allow none’
The work of Professor Méon and Dr Giani, who works in the Department for Political Economy, was published in the British Journal of Political Science.
In the article, the academics note: “In a world where the social norm of racial neutrality is mainstream, reporting a racial bias entails a social cost that racially-biased respondents may avoid by insincerely reporting no bias.
“However, the election of Donald Trump signalled that the social norm of racial neutrality was less mainstream than previously assumed. Consequently, the expected social cost of expressing racist attitudes decreased, making them more likely to be reported.
“By the same token, the first election of Barack Obama lowered the probability of reporting racially-biased attitudes.”
The article also noted that the re-election of Mr Obama in 2012 and his predecessor, George W Bush in 2004, had no marked affect upon racially-based attitudes reported in the ESS, which has been carried out every two years since 2002.