The European Single Market created Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

Apparently so: that's the latest news from one of the more interesting corners of academia. That the rise of politicians like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the populists, is linked to the European Union's Single Market. No, really:

In recent research with Michèle Lamont at Harvard University and Elyas Bakhtiari at Boston University, my coauthors and I link the success of Trump’s kind of politics to the worldwide adoption of neoliberal economic policies.

Neoliberal policies are government measures that shift control from the state to the market. Examples are the privatization of health care, the gig economy and the deregulation of the energy market. Our research describes how like the U.S., European countries rolled out many such neoliberal policies in the 1990s and 2000s.

The figure below describes this trend for Eastern and Western Europe from 1990 to 2010. Values on the vertical axis are scores on the Chinn-Ito index of capital account openness, which are a commonly used measure of neoliberalism. The chart shows the growth of neoliberal market reforms across Europe. The trend started in the West, but Eastern Europe is catching up.

They then go on to show that everyone's getting much more beastly to immigrants, Muslims and other outsiders and there we have it. Neoliberalism is to blame. No, really, that is their logic:

Citizens’ diminishing solidarity with the poor, the rise of anti-immigrant sentiments and the growing populist vote are different aspects of social exclusion. We link these to the adoption of neoliberal policies across Europe.

And pretty silly logic it is too. Because quite obviously the largest influence on that Chinn-Ito measure is the EU's single market over those years with a close runner up being Eastern Europe's recovery from half a century of idiot autarkic socialism. Thus we can indeed say, using this logic, that the EU is responsible for the rise in populist politics and racism. QED.

Except of course it's ludicrous to use a measurement of how open the capital account is in this manner: when the entire point of the whole political structure has been to insist that the capital account must be entirely open.

It's even worse to then go on and claim that this is related to mistrust of outsiders. For there might be other reasons for such mistrust of course: like, umm, perhaps there's been many millions more foreigners to interact with over this period?

No, we are not convinced by this product of academia at all. And the more we look at what academia is producing of this type then the less we think that more education is going to be the solution to anything quite frankly. Unless it's as a place to keep those who cannot think off the streets. A useful purpose of course, but we do think this could probably be achieved at less cost in some other manner.

Did we actually knock all those asylums down?