Using micro data on more than 130,000 individuals from 69 countries, we analyze the extent to which joblessness of the individuals and the prevailing unemployment rate in the country impact perceptions of the effectiveness of democracy. We find that personal joblessness experience translates into negative opinions about the effectiveness of democracy, and it increases the desire for a rouge leader. Evidence from people who live in European countries suggests that being jobless for more than a year is the main source of the impact. Joblessness-related negative attitude towards the effectiveness of democracy is not because of a general displeasure towards the government, but rather, it is targeted towards democracy. We also find that well-educated and wealthier individuals are less likely to indicate that democracies are ineffective. The beliefs about the effectiveness of democracy as system of governance are also shaped by the unemployment rate in countries with low levels of democracy. The results suggest that periods of high unemployment and joblessness would hinder the development of democracy.
Unemployment duration Democracy Education Development World Values Survey