Bruno Caprettini, Joachim Voth, 09 May 2017

Over the last 200 years, new machines have increasingly replaced humans, and even advanced tasks like speech recognition and translation can now be performed by relatively cheap computers and smartphones. This column describes how labour-saving technology appeared to play a key role in one of the most dramatic cases of labour unrest in recent history – the Swing riots in England during the 1830s – serving as a reminder of how disruptive new, labour-saving technologies can be in economic, social, and political terms.

Manuel Funke, Moritz Schularick, Christoph Trebesch, 21 November 2015

Recent events in Europe provide ample evidence that the political aftershocks of financial crises can be severe. This column uses a new dataset that covers elections and crises in 20 advanced economies going back to 1870 to systematically study the political aftermath of financial crises. Far-right parties are the biggest beneficiaries of financial crises, while the fractionalisation of parliaments complicates post-crisis governance. These effects are not observed following normal recessions or severe non-financial macroeconomic shocks.

Chris Ellis, John Fender, 26 October 2011

For the Arab Spring it was Twitter; for the summer riots in London it was BlackBerry Messenger. This column explores how the latest technology is helping to accelerate ‘information cascades’, where people make decisions based on what they see other people doing – and getting away with.

Joachim Voth, Jacopo Ponticelli, 10 August 2011

Governments cutting budget deficits have to consider not just the political reaction of the opposition and the media. A backlash on the streets, in the form of unrest and politically-motivated violence, is a real possibility. This column shows that since 1919, the level of instability has typically risen at the same time as budget cuts are implemented.

Events