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Working paper

WP64: Crime and support for democracy: Revisiting modernization theory

Michelle Kuenzi and Kenneth E. Fernandez 1 Nov 2006 Malawi, Nigeria
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We revisit the literature on modernization theory and note that the theory posits that both increases in wealth and increases in crime rates accompany modernization. This fact is often ignored by much of the scholarship on democratization, which generally focuses on economic conditions. Using 2003 survey data from the Afrobarometer and the Latinbarometer, we examine how victimization and perceptions of crime influence citizens’ attitudes toward democracy. Analysis of four countries (Chile, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Malawi) shows that a citizen’s perception of public safety is as an important factor as any socio-economic variable in predicting support for and satisfaction with democracy. This finding is important because the consolidation of democracy is thought to require widespread support for democracy among a country’s citizenry.

Michelle Kuenzi

Michelle Kuenzi is an Assistant Professor in the Department Political Science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas

Kenneth Fernandez

Kenneth E. Fernandez is Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.