The Geography of Repression and Support for Democracy: Evidence From the Pinochet Dictatorship

58 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2018  

Maria Angelica Bautista

University of Chicago

Felipe González

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile - Institute of Economics

Luis R. Martinez

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Pablo Munoz

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Mounu Prem

Universidad del Rosario

Date Written: September 11, 2018

Abstract

We show that state-led repression under dictatorship can fail to discourage political opposition and can contribute to democratization in the medium term. Studying the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, we exploit the fact that the predetermined location of military bases predicts local levels of civilian victimization, but is unrelated to historical political preferences, as well as to state presence during the dictatorship. We use geographic proximity to these bases to construct instrumental variables and estimate the causal effect of exposure to repression on citizens’ revealed preferences for democracy in the high-stakes plebiscite of 1988. We find that counties with a higher rate of civilian victimization also had a higher rate of voter registration for the plebiscite, as well as a lower vote share in support of Pinochet. However, these counties do not show differential political alignment in national elections after the return to democracy. Our results indicate that the common phenomenon of democratization by elections may be partly driven by increased support for democracy in response to repression under dictatorship.

Keywords: Chile, Human Rights, Repression, Dictatorship, Democratization, Elections

JEL Classification: D72, N46

Suggested Citation

Bautista, Maria Angelica and González, Felipe and Martinez, Luis and Munoz, Pablo and Prem, Mounu, The Geography of Repression and Support for Democracy: Evidence From the Pinochet Dictatorship (September 11, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3249606 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3249606

Maria Angelica Bautista

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Felipe González (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile - Institute of Economics ( email )

Casilla 76
Correo 17
Santiago
Chile

Luis Martinez

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Pablo Munoz

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

579 Evans Hall
Berkeley, CA 94709
United States

Mounu Prem

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

Casa Pedro Fermín
Calle 14 # 4-69
Bogota
Colombia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
15
Abstract Views
84
PlumX