August 2020

IZA DP No. 13571: Who Voted for Trump? Populism and Social Capital

Paola Giuliano, Romain Wacziarg

We argue that low levels of social capital are conducive to the electoral success of populist movements. Using a variety of data sources for the 2016 US Presidential election at the county and individual levels, we show that social capital, measured either by the density of memberships in civic, religious and sports organizations or by generalized trust, is significantly negatively correlated with the vote share and favorability rating of Donald Trump around the time of the election.