Who cares? The limited effect of liberalization on satisfaction with democracy in Europe

  • Kai GuthmannEmail author
  • Anna Fill


The relationship between states and markets has changed over the past 30 years. While markets have pressed forward in many traditional policy domains of governments, states became smaller, less centralized, and opened up their national economies. In other words, we have witnessed far-reaching liberalization procedures in Western democracies across all major policy fields. How did these liberalizations affect society and democracy? Some scholars argue that increasing liberalization undermines legal systems, political power structures, and democratic processes of nation states. Yet, even if liberalization does undermine democracy, does the associated reduction in the regulatory activity of the democratic state have a negative impact on citizens’ satisfaction with democracy? This is the question guiding our contribution, which analyzes the effects of liberalization on national democratic satisfaction in 25 developed democracies between 1985 and 2014. We conduct a large-n pooled times-series cross-sectional analysis based on aggregated surveys from the Eurobarometer, and on a novel liberalization data set that captures liberalizing and de-liberalizing reform changes in 13 major policy fields.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität BernBernSwitzerland

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