But across the West, the economist Branko Milanovic argues, the rise of populism corresponds to a decline in the income share held by the broad middle classes of those countries.
Milanovic has studied global inequality trends extensively, and is the creator of a semi-famous chart showing how the rise of global trade boosted incomes for the poorest and very richest workers in the world — everyone, really, except for the working class in the West. In a recent blog post, Milanovic writes that in the United States and other rich countries “populism is rooted in the failure of globalization to deliver palpable benefits to its working class.”
With the Brexit vote, the populist movement can already claim a victory: It has won a clear reversal from the economic-integration trend of the past decades.
Now the question is whether the movement will ultimately push the world into a more Western-worker-friendly form of globalization – or a full-fledged retreat to protectionism.