Robert Shiller, writing about the long term effects of unemployment, observes (boldface mine):
Bad as it is for those without jobs and their immediate families, unemployment tears the fabric of our society. Duha T. Altindag of Auburn University and Naci H. Mocan of Louisiana State University used data collected by the World Values Survey on more than 130,000 people from 69 countries to learn how unemployment affects confidence in civil society and basic democratic institutions.
They looked at a survey question inquiring whether “having a strong leader who does not have to bother with Parliament or elections” is a good thing. In the United States, being jobless increases the propensity to agree by about 11 percentage points, to 38 percent from the sample mean of 27 percent, after controlling for other factors like income and education. They also found that, in countries where they had the appropriate data, people who have been unemployed for more than a year are even more likely to agree, if other factors are held constant.
Increasing support for a ‘strongman’ isn’t surprising–that’s an old historical phenomenon. But what I really want to know is: who the hell are the 27 percent in the U.S. who in good times think not having to bother with Congress is a good thing?
As far as I can tell, they’re using data from 2005. Are these primarily Republican dead-enders? If so, I find it hard to believe they feel the same way now that a Kenyan Muslim Socialist is president….
I have a pet theory. It may just be confirmation bias, but nonetheless it’s one I believe… On any given issues, roughly 1/3 of the electorate will agree with the most counterfactual and/or morally repugnant position possible.
I did a quick search of your blog for the technical term, and see that you are apparently unacquainted with the “crazification factor”. 27% leapt right out of the page at me. That’s the fraction of any population that’s just plain crazy. Determined experimentally, even, with a really large sample, holding a bunch of variables constant: http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/10/lunch-discussions-145-crazification.html