On the endogeneity of political preferences: Evidence from individual experience with democracy

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1145-1148
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0880

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Political preferences provide economic capital

Longer periods of democratic government favor economic growth, which in turn stabilizes democracy. But is this relationship a given? Fuchs-Schundeln and Schundeln collected individual-level data from more than 100 countries over two decades. Support for democracy did indeed increase as the length of time lived in a democratic system increased.

Science, this issue p. 1145


Democracies depend on the support of the general population, but little is known about the determinants of this support. We investigated whether support for democracy increases with the length of time spent under the system and whether preferences are thus affected by the political system. Relying on 380,000 individual-level observations from 104 countries over the years 1994 to 2013, and exploiting individual-level variation within a country and a given year in the length of time spent under democracy, we find evidence that political preferences are endogenous. For new democracies, our findings imply that popular support needs time to develop. For example, the effect of around 8.5 more years of democratic experience corresponds to the difference in support for democracy between primary and secondary education.

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