What Makes Governments Popular?

51 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016  

Sergei M. Guriev

Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 2016

Abstract

Why are some governments popular with their citizens while others get low approval ratings? International surveys show enormous variation both across countries and over time. In what we believe to be the first systematic, global, comparative study of political approval, we examine a panel of government ratings from 128 countries including both democracies and authoritarian states, over the years 2005-2014. We find that good economic performance is robustly correlated with higher approval in both democracies and non-democracies. Approval is also higher in the year of a presidential election in both types of regimes. In non-democracies, information matters: greater press freedom and internet penetration result in lower approval while internet censorship is associated with higher approval; these variables have no impact on approval in democracies. We did not find any clear relationship with repression, suggesting that if fear inflates ratings in non-democracies this may be offset by the dissatisfaction that repression also causes.

JEL Classification: P16

Suggested Citation

Guriev, Sergei M. and Treisman, Daniel, What Makes Governments Popular? (August 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11460. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2831963

Sergei M. Guriev (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

HOME PAGE: http://econ.sciences-po.fr/staff/sergei-guriev

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Daniel Treisman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

405 Hilgard Ave.
3265 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1472
United States
650-725-8556 (Phone)
650-723-1687 (Fax)

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