Did the ag recession of the eighties condition us to who we are now? There are reasons to believe those of us who lived through the bust have been permanently altered, just as other citizens are being imprinted now by the recession.
But, of course, the effects here aren’t solely on stock-market participation. Another study (abstract / PDF) looks at how recessions affect our beliefs about the world, using data from the General Social Survey from 1972 to 2006. Using time and regional variations in macroeconomic conditions to identify the effect of recessions on beliefs, the study finds that:
[I]ndividuals growing up during recessions tend to believe that success in life depends more on luck than on effort, support more government redistribution, but are less confident in public institutions.What’s more, it finds that these effects, like the stock-market effects, are long-lasting.
The good news for conservatives here (or the bad news for liberals, depending on how you want to look at it) is that a recession in one’s formative years does not seem to lead one to self-identify as more left-leaning — possibly because the desire for more government redistribution and the lack of faith in public institutions cancel each other out.
Still, on the whole, it seems like pretty cruddy news to me: a generation that feels it has less control over its destiny, that wants more from its government, and that’s less willing to take risks. [More]
I think this would help account for the endless appetite and sense of entitlement we have for government subsidies. It would also partially explain our proclivity to embrace "insurance" schemes of all sorts. We are truly risk averse.
The timing is not good, as risk seems to be increasing for farmers of all types. Global influences, climate change, technology upheavals, and financial intensification all call for more from us as managers that we expected before. Few farmers look forward to times of relatively hassle free existence. Especially since the desire to farm has propelled competition to very exciting levels.
More importantly, the generation returning now may have their own "80's" to live through, leaving them with similar inclinations.
*Ahoy, English majors - am I close?