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Trial by Fire: A Natural Disaster's Impact on Support for the Authorities in Rural Russia

  • Egor Lazarev, Anton Sobolev, Irina V. Soboleva and Boris Sokolov

Abstract

This article aims to explore the microfoundations of political support under a nondemocratic regime by investigating the impact of a natural disaster on attitudes toward the government. The research exploits the enormous wildfires that occurred in rural Russia during the summer of 2010 as a natural experiment. The authors test the effects of fires with a survey of almost eight hundred respondents in seventy randomly selected villages. The study finds that in the burned villages there is higher support for the government at all levels. Most counterintuitively, the rise of support for authorities cannot be fully explained by the generous governmental aid. The authors interpret the results by the demonstration effect of the government's performance.

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* The study was conducted with a 2011 grant from the program on Fundamental Studies of the Higher School of Economics. The authors are thankful to editors and reviewers of World Politics, Ashraf Ahmed, Alexey Bessudnov, Ekaterina Borisova, Ted Brader, Andrei Bremzen, Jowei Chen, Ruben Enikolopov, Timothy Frye, Elise Giuliano, Andrew Healy, Vladimir Gel'man, Donald Green, John Jost, Neil Malhotra, Eduard Ponarin, Ronald Rogowski, Timothy Ryan, Andrei Shleifer, Konstantin Sonin, David Szakonyi, Daniel Treisman, Maria Yudkevich, and John Zaller for their help and useful comments; and they thank Anna Irkhina and Yaroslav Bakhmetjev for research assistance and Imanni Burg for language editing

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Trial by Fire: A Natural Disaster's Impact on Support for the Authorities in Rural Russia

  • Egor Lazarev, Anton Sobolev, Irina V. Soboleva and Boris Sokolov

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