Campus Tilburg University hoogleraren

PhD Defense S. Chen

Date: Time: 16:00 Location: Aula

Marriage, Minorities, and Mass Movements

Societies around the world have not only witnessed the deinstitutionalization of marriage, but also been confronted with the deinstitutionalization of established politics, ideology and value. Even when marriage has become less economically and practically important, it still generates larger well-being consequences than cohabitation and its symbolic significance stabilizes the partnership market in the long term. Moreover, this dissertation finds that individuals suffering economic insecurity during the Great Recession became more anti-elitist and did not necessarily scapegoat immigrants. However, individuals with cultural concerns became more hostile to immigrants even though they did not perceive immigrants as economic threats. These changes in attitudes were translated to left-wing and right-wing populist voting, respectively, in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.  

Specifically, Chapter 2 analyzes Dutch panel data to investigate whether partnership has a causal effect on subjective well-being. We take into account selection effects and reverse causality. Our main contribution is the special focus on same-sex partnerships. We find that these effects are homogeneous to sexual orientation. Gender differences exist in the well-being effects of same-sex partnerships: females are happier cohabiting, whereas marriage has a stronger well-being effect on males. Chapter 3 explores the symbolic functions of marriage on the stability of formal partnerships that benefits involved households and society. We exploit Dutch same-sex marriage legalization as a shock to the symbol of marital institution. With rich administrative data, we investigate the transition rate from registered partnership to marriage and divorce hazards from both types of relationships simultaneously. Finally, Chapter 4 examines how economic insecurity and cultural backlash have triggered the current populism in the United States. I exploit two quasi-natural experiments, the Great Recession and the 2014 immigration crisis, to investigate the effects of recent unemployment and unauthorized immigration on attitudes related to populism and populist voting. I identify perceived economic unfairness as a mechanism through which recent unemployment drove left-wing populism. My study disentangles economic insecurity from cultural backlash and links each of them to a different type of populism.

  • Location: Cobbenhagen building, Aula (access via Koopmans building)
  • Supervisors: Prof. J.C. van Ours, Prof. A.H.O. van Soest