(Successful) Democracies Breed Their Own Support

Daron Acemoglu, MIT, Nicolás Ajzenman, McGill University, Cevat Giray Aksoy, EBRD, Martin Fiszbein, Boston University, and Carlos Molina, MIT

Using large-scale survey data covering more than 110 countries and exploiting within-country variation across cohorts and surveys, we show that individuals with longer exposure to democracy display stronger support for democratic institutions, and that this effect is almost entirely driven by exposure to democracies with successful performance in terms of economic growth, control of corruption, peace and political stability, and public goods provision. Across a variety of specifications, estimation methods, and samples, the results are robust, and the timing and nature of the effects are consistent with our interpretation. We also present suggestive evidence that democratic institutions that receive support from their citizens perform better in the face of negative shocks.