This paper examines the conditions that promote popular legitimating beliefs that provide support for governments that are attempting to serve their entire populations competently and in a manner that is relatively impartial and equitable. Legitimacy as a feature of government reduces the transaction costs of governing by reducing reliance on coercion and monitoring. Here we explore the relationship between the existence of a relatively effective government, particularly one that is considered fair, and attitudes that indicate quasi-voluntary compliance, our indicator of the existence of legitimating beliefs. We posit that where such a relationship exists, there is the potential for the development of a virtuous circle. The more effective and fair the government, the greater the degree of quasi-voluntary compliance, which then improves government’s capacity to become more effective, which in turn increases quasi-voluntary compliance.
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