Does Economic Crisis Reduce Support for Markets and Democracy in Latin America? Lessons from Surveys of Public Opinion and Well Being


The severe economic crisis facing several countries in the region over the last couple of years has led many observers to predict a backlash against market policies and even against democracy in the region. An economic crisis of such proportions should also, in theory, have negative effects on subjective well being. Our analysis, based on the Latinobarometro surveys from 2000-2002, finds some unexpected positive trends, as well as notable differences between those countries that suffered from crises and those that did not. Satisfaction with market policies and with the way democracy is working has decreased among all groups except the very wealthy. In contrast, support for democracy as a system of government has increased, suggesting that respondents are increasingly distinguishing between democracy as a system of government, and the manner in which particular governments are performing. We also find evidence of changing attitudes towards redistributive taxation among the wealthy.