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(Successful) Democracies Breed Their Own Support

By Daron Acemoglu, Nicolas Ajzenman, Cevat Giray Aksoy, Martin Fiszbein and Carlos Molina

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A new EBRD Working Paper (number 260)

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. We bolster these baseline findings using an instrumental-variables strategy exploiting regional democratization waves and focusing on immigrants' exposure to democracy before migration. In all cases, the timing and nature of the effects are consistent with a causal interpretation. We also establish that democracies breed their own support only when they are successful: all of the effects we estimate work through exposure to democracies that are successful in providing economic growth, peace and political stability, and public goods.

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