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Satisfaction with Democracy: The Impact of Institutions, Contexts, and Attitudes
  • Fred Cutler,
  • bnyblade,
  • andrea.nuesser
Fred Cutler
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In this paper we critique existing research on citizens’ Satisfaction with Democracy (SWD), propose conceptual and empirical solutions to several problems with existing research, and estimate the most comprehensive micro-macro models of SWD to date. We propose an encompassing theoretical model of institutional and individual-level determinants of citizens’ satisfaction with democracy and then estimate that model with cross-national survey and macro data. Our model begins with a well-specified individual-level model of SWD separate from the effects of institutions on the individual-level determinants. The first step in successfully estimating such a model is theoretical: to properly specify the relationship from contextual factors (especially institutions) through possible individual-level mediators, to the outcome of interest – Satisfaction with Democracy. We then employ state-of-the-art multilevel mediation models (Preacher et al. 2010) to estimate this model on a merged dataset of European Social Survey and country-level contextual data. The results show that citizens’ judgments of democracy are based mostly in outputs and lived experience, not in institutional variation or its political consequences.