Convergence or divergence? A multilevel analysis of political values in 18 EU countries 1990-2017

Pepijn van Houwelingen, Plamen Akaliyski*, Paul Dekker, Jurjen Iedema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Basic core political values differ widely across Europe. From a European integration perspective, a gradual convergence in core political values across European countries would be beneficial. Desirably, the direction of any possible European value convergence would be also in accordance with the values stipulated by the European Union (EU). Based on European Values Study (EVS) data from 1990 to 2017, we assess the developments among 18 EU countries with regard to public opinion on nine political value indicators, comprising three core political values: equality, individual autonomy, and cosmopolitanism. The differences and the dynamics of change in core political values between these 18 European countries are considerable. Our investigation arrives at contradictory conclusions about the outcome of the temporal development, depending on the political value we analyze. EU countries have converged on equality and cosmopolitanism values, but diverged on individual autonomy. The overall change in cosmopolitanism is, however, not in the direction the EU intends, as the countries have become more skeptical of EU enlargement. The trend in individual autonomy is in an EU-desired direction ('same direction'), but is much slower in the former socialist countries ('different speed'), which results in divergence on an EU-wide scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-470
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Political values
  • Public opinion
  • Political culture
  • European integration
  • European Union


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