Austerity and anarchy: Budget cuts and social unrest in Europe, 1919–2008

Jacopo Ponticelli*, Hans Joachim Voth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Does fiscal consolidation lead to social unrest? Using cross-country evidence for the period 1919 to 2008, we examine the extent to which societies become unstable after budget cuts. We find a positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. Expenditure cuts are particularly potent in fueling protests; tax rises have only small effects. To isolate the effect of policy decisions on social unrest we exploit variation in neighboring countries’ past fiscal policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Comparative Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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