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Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression

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  • Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
  • Alan de Bromhead
  • Barry Eichengreen

Abstract

We examine the impact of the Great Depression on the share of votes for right-wing anti-system parties in elections in the 1920s and 1930s. We confirm the existence of a link between political extremism and economic hard times as captured by growth or contraction of the economy. What mattered was not simply growth at the time of the election but cumulative growth performance. But the effect of the Depression on support for right-wing anti-system parties was not equally powerful under all economic, political and social circumstances. It was greatest in countries with relatively short histories of democracy, with existing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that created low hurdles to parliamentary representation. Above all, it was greatest where depressed economic conditions were allowed to persist.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke & Alan de Bromhead & Barry Eichengreen, 2012. "Right Wing Political Extremism in the Great Depression," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _095, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:esohwp:_095
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Political Costs of the Great Recession by Mark Harrison
      by Mark Harrison in Mark Harrison's blog on 2012-04-25 02:04:34

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    Cited by:

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    2. Proaño Acosta, Christian & Peña, Juan Carlos & Saalfeld, Thomas, 2019. "Inequality, macroeconomic performance and political polarization: An empirical analysis," BERG Working Paper Series 149, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    3. Manuel Funke & Moritz Schularick & Christoph Trebesch, 2015. "Going to Extremes: Politics after Financial Crises, 1870-2014," CESifo Working Paper Series 5553, CESifo.
    4. Proaño Acosta, Christian & Peña, Juan Carlos & Saalfeld, Thomas, 2020. "Inequality, macroeconomic performance and political polarization: A panel analysis of 20 advanced democracies," BERG Working Paper Series 157, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    5. Nicholas Crafts, 2013. "Long-Term Growth in Europe: What Difference does the Crisis Make?," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 224(1), pages 14-28, May.
    6. Jacopo Ponticelli & Joachim Voth, 2011. "Austerity and anarchy: Budget cuts and social unrest in Europe, 1919-2008," Economics Working Papers 1342, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2012.
    7. Funke, Manuel & Schularick, Moritz & Trebesch, Christoph, 2016. "Going to extremes: Politics after financial crises, 1870–2014," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 227-260.
    8. Xiaohuan Lan & Ben G. Li, 2015. "The Economics of Nationalism," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 294-325, May.
    9. Scott Urban, 2014. "Policy Options for the Euro: Heterodoxy Ahead," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 742-757, July.
    10. Aled Davies, 2012. "The Evolution of British Monetarism: 1968-1979," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _104, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    11. Schneider, Eric B., 2013. "Real wages and the family: Adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 99-115.
    12. Martin Halla & Alexander F. Wagner & Josef Zweimüller, 2012. "Does Immigration into Their Neighborhoods Incline Voters Toward the Extreme Right? The Case of the Freedom Party of Austria," NRN working papers 2012-04, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    13. Eric B. Schneider, 2014. "Prices and production: agricultural supply response in fourteenth-century England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(1), pages 66-91, February.
    14. Aled Davies, 2012. "The Evolution of British Monetarism: 1968-1979," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _104, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    15. Schneider, Eric B., 2013. "Real wages and the family: Adjusting real wages to changing demography in pre-modern England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 99-115.
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    18. Eric B. Schneider, 2014. "Prices and production: agricultural supply response in fourteenth-century England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(1), pages 66-91, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great Depression; Political extremism; Voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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