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Nordic authoritarianism: Child-rearing values and political behavior in a multiparty context

Vilja Helminen, Hanna Wass, Anu Kantola, Marko Elovainio


This article explores how authoritarianism as a factor in child-rearing values (CRV) is associated with political orientation, party support, and policy preferences among voters and societal elites in the Nordic context, which is characterized by social trust and solidarity, feelings of affinity, and a modest degree of ideological polarization. Based on a representative citizen survey conducted in 2018 (n = 4,076) and an elite survey conducted in 2020 (n = 948) among Finnish political, administrative, advocacy, business, and influence elites, our findings suggest that authoritarianism in Finland mostly relates to culturally conservative, and less to economically conservative, political orientations. While authoritarianism is connected to policy preferences and political orientations on both cultural and economic dimensions, it has more relevance for preferences regarding cultural issues than economic ones. Our findings support the notion that authoritarianism plays a role in political orientation mainly in the cultural realm. Overall, our study indicates that authoritarianism as captured by the CRV scale might be a politically important underpinning among both citizens and societal elites also outside the U.S.