As population growth slows, populism surges

Mayor Nicola Gatta of Candela, in south-east Italy (population 2,700), is desperate to reverse two decades of population decline and literally keep his town on the map. If you accept his invitation to move there, he'll pay you US$2,300 (S$3,085).

It's probably no coincidence that mayors in small Italian towns are making such offers at about the same time as a populist coalition is on the verge of taking over Italy's government. The last time that populism - what we broadly define as political movements that ostensibly set the interests of "ordinary people" against elites as well as an "other" - swept across Europe and the United States was marked by the same combination of slow economic and fertility growth that today prevails in advanced industrialised countries in the West and Asia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'As population growth slows, populism surges'. Print Edition | Subscribe