59 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2016
Date Written: November 11, 2016
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 correlates robustly with higher approval in both democracies and non-democracies. Approval also rises in presidential election years in both types of regimes. In non-democracies, information matters: greater press freedom and internet penetration are associated with lower approval, while internet censorship predicts higher approval; these variables are unrelated to approval in democracies. We found no clear relationship with repression, suggesting that if fear inflates ratings in non-democracies this may be offset by the dissatisfaction that repression also causes.
Keywords: Political Economy, Political Approval
JEL Classification: P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation