On the Preferences for Strong Leadership*

Alberto Chong, Mark Gradstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review


Methods: First, we specify a formal model to generate testable hypotheses on the relationship between income and attitudes toward strong political leadership support. Then, we test these claims using a rich survey of individual attitudes across countries from 1999 to 2004. Results: We present evidence indicating that the support for such strong leadership is inversely related to individual income, even after controlling for additional characteristics, such as education. Individual attitudes toward strong leadership are also inversely related to country-level indicators such as income inequality, level of GDP per capita, and institutional characteristics. Conclusion: We rationalize these findings by suggesting that a strong leader, sometimes with little legislative oversight, nevertheless benefits from public support in expectation that his policies would provide protection from the expropriation by powerful elites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1267-1282
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


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