Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

A new paper shows a link between the rise of populism in Western Europe and the number of people who are skeptical of using vaccines, according to The Guardian.

The study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, found that places where measles outbreaks and deaths have risen in recent years map closely onto countries where populism has taken hold, including in Greece and Italy.

“It seems likely that scientific populism is driven by similar feelings to political populism–ie profound distrust of elites and experts by disenfranchised and marginalised parts of the population,” Jonathan Kennedy, the paper’s author, wrote.

As in the U.S., the anti-vaxx movement in Europe has gained momentum over the last few years. A Guardian report on the growing skepticism in Europe last year revealed that measles cases are at a 20 year high.

Advertisement

In the U.S., the situation is comparable. A study from 2016 found that one in three Trump voters believed that vaccines cause autism. However, anti-vaxx sentiment at home is also tied to wealth. In California, a study found that it was mostly upper class white communities where a large number of children are unvaccinated.

“If you live in a rich, white community where lots of people don’t vaccinate their kids, that could be dangerous,” Tony Yang, a professor of health policy at George Mason University told CNN.

Advertisement

Kennedy wrote that it is the lack of trust in the state and their expertise in places like Greece that is tied to skepticism about science, not a particular ideology.

“The trouble is we do need to have some basic trust in experts to survive as a human society,” he wrote. “We need the state to protect those who cannot be vaccinated because of compromised immune systems.”