Trial by Fire: A Natural Disaster’s Impact on Support for the Authorities in Rural Russia
Forthcoming in World Politics
52 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2012 Last revised: 17 Dec 2013
Date Written: April 30, 2012
This study aims to explore the micro-foundations of political support under a non-democratic regime by investigating the impact of a natural disaster on attitudes toward the government. The research exploits the enormous wildfires that occurred in rural Russia during the summer of 2010 as a natural experiment. We test the effects of fires with a survey of almost 800 respondents in 70 randomly selected villages. Our study finds that in the burned villages there is higher support for the government at all levels. Most counterintuitively, the rise of support for authorities cannot be fully explained by the generous governmental aid. We interpret the results by the demonstration effect of the government’s performance.
Keywords: government support, natural disasters, authoritarianism, natural experiment
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