Trial by Fire: A Natural Disaster’s Impact on Support for the Authorities in Rural Russia
51 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 17, 2013
This study aims to explore the micro-foundations of political support under a non-democratic regime by investigating the impact of a natural disaster on attitudes toward the government. The research exploits the enormous wildfires that occurred in rural Russia during the summer of 2010 as a natural experiment. We test the effects of fires with a survey of almost 800 respondents in 70 randomly selected villages. Our study finds that in the burned villages there is higher support for the government at all levels. Most counter-intuitively, the rise of support for authorities cannot be fully explained by the generous governmental aid. We interpret the results by the demonstration effect of the government’s performance.
Keywords: government support, natural disasters, authoritarianism, Russia, natural experiment
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