Economic Accountability in Central America

Gregg B. Johnson, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer


Representative democracy hinges upon the notion of accountability. We examine the mediating effects of political context on economic accountability in a hostile environment – the developing democracies of Central America. We test whether clarity of responsibility mediates the economy’s effects on citizens’ support for a president using approval ratings. In general, we find that a good economy increases public support for a president significantly more under unified government, but surprisingly, we find that a bad economy decreases public support for a president far more under divided government. Dynamic simulations show that these effects become more pronounced during sustained periods of economic expansion or contraction.

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