Harald Oberhofer WU Researcher of the Month

04.12.2018

WIFO foreign trade expert Harald Oberhofer "Researcher of the Month" at WU.

Harald Oberhofer was nominated "Researcher of the Month" by WU for his outstanding scientific achievements. Harald Oberhofer presents his latest paper in a research video together with co-author and WIFO regional economist Julia Bachtrögler.

EU regional policy supports the less prosperous regions within the EU by means of its funding instruments, which together make up the second largest item in the EU budget, in order to catch up with the more developed regions. This should also make them more competitive in the face of advancing globalisation. In 2017 alone, the EU invested around 53.5 billion euro in promoting European regions. In Austria, for example, almost 1 billion euros of EU funds flowed into Burgenland alone between 1995 and 2006. Harald Oberhofer, foreign trade expert at WIFO and professor at the WU Institute for International Economics, together with WIFO regional economist Julia Bachtrögler, investigated the extent to which such regional transfers by the EU also influences the voting behaviour of citizens. The focus was on the question of whether people from regions that benefit more from EU funding are more pro-European in their voting behaviour. Harald Oberhofer and his co-author examined this for the example of the French presidential election of 2017.

First of all, the data on project funding by firms within the multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013 were analysed to find out whether the project funding had led to more employment growth in the companies in the respective region. The next step was to use this information to explain regional voting behaviour in France. Harald Oberhofer and Julia Bachtrögler show that regions that benefited particularly from EU funding actually voted more pro-European, i.e. more in favour of Emmanuel Macron. This was particularly true when EU subsidies created new jobs in the regions. Conversely, regions that received relatively less EU funding increasingly voted for the EU-sceptical candidate Marine Le Pen.


To the research video.

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Margit Schratzenstaller-Altzinger

Function: Research staff member, Deputy director

Publications

This study investigates whether there is a link between the successful implementation of European cohesion policy and the voters' attitudes towards the EU. Using the French presidential elections in 2017 as a case study, we do not solely consider regional funds expenditures but also its induced effects in a region as further potential determinant of pro-European or eurosceptic voting behaviour. In order to measure the effectiveness of EU structural funds and Cohesion Fund assignment, firm-level employment effects in French NUTS-2 regions stemming from project allocation during the multi-financial framework 2007-2013 are estimated. The obtained average treatment effects are, in a next step, used together with other regional characteristics to capture the citizens' perceived exposure to the EU in an empirical voting model for the French presidential election in 2017. The estimation results reveal a significant negative relationship between the effectiveness of EU funds allocation and the vote share of the eurosceptic candidate Marine Le Pen.
Julia Bachtrögler and Harald Oberhofer (Photo: Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Julia Bachtrögler and Harald Oberhofer (Photo: Vienna University of Economics and Business)