Recessions & politics (cont.)
Hans Peter Grüner has posted the paper that he and Markus Brückner wrote about the electoral effects of economic recessions to his website: here.
It makes eminent psychological sense that a crisis might lead people toward conservative responses—a feeling of impending scarcity encourages selfishness, not generosity. It’s been ages since I read Erik Erikson, but as I recall the identity crisis, it leads the sufferer back to remembered moments of security and happiness, not toward an uncertain transformative future. That helps explain why immigrants are so often the target in an economic crisis: it’s not just about labor market competition (and some of the most xenophobic are those who experience no labor market competition with immigrants), but a fear of the foreign amidst a passionate reversion to the familiar.
More on the immigrant angle: further evidence that feelings about immigration are driven more by “cultural” than narrowly economic concerns can be found in this paper by David Card, Christian Dustmann, and Ian Preston. Among other things they find that some of the most passionately anti-immigrant people are retirees, who of course have no labor market competition issues. Christians are more opposed to immigration than non-Christians, and there’s a lot of anxiety about heathen nonwhites polluting native cultures.