Abramson and Inglehart find a significant trend toward postmaterialist values in Western Europe, which they argue is largely driven by the gradual processes of generational replacement. Clarke, Dutt, and Rapkin argue that this trend is a methodological artifact of the wording of Inglehart's four-item measure of materialist/ postmaterialist values. They claim that because this battery does not include a question about unemployment, in periods of high unemployment respondents tend to choose postmaterialist goals. The long-term trend toward postmaterialism in Western Europe, they argue, results from rising levels of unemployment during the past two decades. Abramson and Inglehart point out that increases in inflation have a short-term impact on decreasing postmaterialism, but maintain that the positive relationship between unemployment and postmaterialism is spurious. As this analysis shows, Clarke, Dutt, and Rapkin find a positive relationship between unemployment and postmaterialism by building a model that has little theoretical justification and that is not robust to changes in specification. As this analysis demonstrates, unemployment is actually linked with support for materialist goals, and the trend toward post-materialism is robust in the face of alternative time frames, models, and specifications. The weight of the evidence demonstrates that the long-term trend toward postmaterialism in Western Europe is driven by generational replacement.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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