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Do Dictatorships Affect People?s Beliefs and Preferences? An Empirical Assessment Of the Latin American Case

11 June 2014
San Francesco - Cappella Guinigi
Understanding the impact of dictatorships on preferences provides important insights regarding persistence effects of non democratic regimes and contributes to the literature in preference formation and political economy. In the latter usually dictators affect in- dividuals’ preferences through monetary incentives and/or repression. The possibility that dictators directly affect preferences and beliefs (as historical evidence shows they actively try to do) introduces persistence to the picture: a non democratic regime could have prolonged impact in a country’s outcomes if, after democratization, individuals vote according to preferences shaped by the previous regime. Also, individuals affected by dictatorial regimes could be instrumental in preventing transitions to democracy or sup- porting future coups, which helps to explain historical cases of democracy/dictatorship pendular movements. I use a cross sectional value survey covering 18 Latin American countries to empirically asses the impact of exposure to dictatorships during youth on individuals’ contemporaneous political beliefs and preferences. The identification strat- egy is based on cross-country differences in the timing and length of the dictatorships. Results show past exposure to non democratic regimes reduces current satisfaction with democracy, preference for democracy and confidence in institutions. Results also sug- gest exposed individuals turn to the left of the political spectre, and are robust to the inclusion of different socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, and changes in the democracy/dictatorship demarcation criteria.
Brum, Matias - Queen Mary - University of London - London