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Economic Conditions and the Rise of Anti-Democratic Extremism

Benjamin Crost ()
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Benjamin Crost: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

No 350, HiCN Working Papers from Households in Conflict Network

Abstract: This paper provides evidence that adverse economic conditions contributed to the rise of anti-democratic extremism in the United States. A state-level analysis shows that increases in the unemployment rate during the Great Recession led to a large increase in the number of anti-democratic extremist groups. Further analysis shows that anti-democratic extremism is most strongly affected by the male unemployment rate and the white unemployment rate, consistent with the observation that most members of these extremist groups are white men. The effect of unemployment is concentrated in states with high pre-existing racial resentment, proxied by the number of racist web searches at baseline. If unemployment had remained at its pre-recession level, the increase in anti-democratic groups between 2007 and 2010 could have been reduced by more than 60%.

Keywords: Great Recession; Economic Conditions; Unemployment; Anti-Democratic Extremism; Anti-Government Movement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D74 H56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 26 pages
Date: 2021-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem and nep-pol
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