The principal component of a European social model was considered to be convergence of social outcomes toward the top. However, the latest economic and social trends are no longer characterized by a steady narrowing of the gap between the more and lesser advanced countries. While all European countries were affected by the economic crisis of 2008 and a coordinated response was put into place in 2009, since 2010, we see a growing divergence between two groups of countries in Europe. The first group, mainly in the North of Europe, concentrated around Germany, Austria, the Nordic countries, along with certain Eastern European countries having close economic ties to Germany, has steadily emerged from the crisis and resumed a positive economic and social path. The second group, however, comprised mainly of the Southern and Eastern periphery, remains stuck in negative economic and social situations following the crisis. This chapter demonstrates the initial economic convergence, followed by a stark divergence in certain economic and social outcomes after the crisis of 2008. It reviews the various explanations for these divergences. Finally, it considers the political outcomes of this economic and social dualization. We argue that despite the seemingly uniform rise of populist anti-EU challengers across Europe, these challengers differ significantly in the grievances they raise. Radical right parties are dominant in the center, while radical left parties outperform the radical right in the periphery, a dynamic that constitutes a second, political, dualization of Europe.
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