This article assesses the degree of policy responsiveness in the new democracies of post-communist Europe. Panel data on economic reform and public opinion show that public support for reform has a large and significant effect on reform progress. Where public support for reform is high, reform proceeds more quickly. This effect remains strong even when controlling for the endogeneity of public support and other economic and political causes of reform, though it is strongest in more democratic countries. These results suggest that economic reform may be better promoted by persuading the public of the beneficial consequences of reform than by trying to insulate reformers from the public, and that the quality of democracy in the region may be higher than commonly perceived.
(Online publication March 25 2011)
* Department of Political Science, Northwestern University (email: email@example.com); Department of Economics, Seoul University, respectively. B-Y Kim acknowledges that this work was supported by grant R32-2009-000-20055-0 from the World Class University (WCU) project of the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology (MEST) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) through Seoul National University. Both authors wish to thank several anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Data for replication and an online appendix with supplementary tables are available at sites.google.com/site/robertspolisci.