Yale economist Robert Shiller in the New York Times this weekend:
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.
The original paper can be found here. The authors do indeed find a robust correlation between anti-democratic views and joblessness. They also discuss potential alternative explanations, including that the correlation is spurious and reverse causality. I’m not sure that they ruled them out, but at least they have considered them.