What’s Behind a Rise in Ethnic Nationalism? Maybe the Economy

Global economic weakness and a rise in inequality appear to be causing a disturbing growth in ethnic nationalism.

Leaders today often do not openly declare themselves to be ethnic nationalists — in which identity is defined by perceived genetic, religious or linguistic heritage rather than democratic ideals or principles. But political appeals to such forms of identity are nevertheless widespread.

In the United States, despite his attempts to woo minority voters, Donald J. Trump appears to derive support from such sentiment. In Moscow, Vladimir V. Putin has used Russian nationalist sentiment to inspire many of his countrymen. And we see growing ethnic political parties inspired by national identity in other countries.

It is natural to ask whether something so broad might have a common cause, other than the obvious circumstantial causes like the gradual fading of memories about the horrors of ethnic conflict in World War II or the rise in this century of forms of violent ethnic terrorism. Economics is my specialty, and I think economic factors may explain at least part of the trend.

- The New York Times

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