DSD: The Democratic Support Dataset

The Democratic Support Dataset (DSD)

Democratic regimes and public support for them have long been argued to be mutually reinforcing, with high levels of public support ensuring democracies remain strong, and experience with democratic governance generating robust public support (see Lipset 1959; Easton 1965). The evidence for either of these claims, however, has been decidedly mixed.

One important reason is the difficulty in measuring the public’s support for democracy over time and across many countries. The Democratic Support Dataset draws on recent advances in latent variable modeling of public opinion and a comprehensive collection of survey data on support for democracy to address this problem. We note, however, that the items commonly employed to measure democratic support in surveys may be inadequate to the task. These questions upon which the DSD is based contain no information on respondents’ support for democracy relative to other values with which it may come into conflict (see, e.g., Graham and Svolik 2020; Simonovits, McCoy, and Littvay 2022) or on whether respondents even understand the meaning of the democracy they are claiming to support (see, e.g., Kirsch and Welzel 2019; Wuttke, Gavras, and Schoen 2020). For these reasons, it could easily be that these questions miss capturing the true extent of the support among the public that democracy will actually find when public support is in fact most needed. These concerns notwithstanding, the DSD remains a valuable source—perhaps the most valuable source—for testing arguments about the causes and consequences of support for democracy in broadly cross-national perspective.

For more, please see the following article and its supplemental materials:

Tai, Yuehong ‘Cassandra’, Yue Hu, and Frederick Solt. Forthcoming. “Democracy, Public Support, and Measurement Uncertainty.” American Political Science Review.

There are two ways of using the DSD data. To directly compare up to four countries in estimated levels and trends of democratic support, use the DSD web app below. To use the DSD in statistical analyses, datasets formatted for use in Stata and R are available for download.

Powered by RStudio.

Please cite the DSD as follows:

Tai, Yuehong ‘Cassandra’, Yue Hu, and Frederick Solt. Forthcoming. “Democracy, Public Support, and Measurement Uncertainty.” American Political Science Review. DSD Version 1.0, March 2002.


Easton, David. 1965. A Systems Analysis of Political Life. New York: Wiley.
Graham, Matthew H., and Milan W. Svolik. 2020. “Democracy in America? Partisanship, Polarization, and the Robustness of Support for Democracy in the United States.” American Political Science Review 114 (2): 392–409. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055420000052.
Kirsch, Helen, and Christian Welzel. 2019. “Democracy Misunderstood: Authoritarian Notions of Democracy Around the Globe.” Social Forces 98 (1): 59–92.
Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy.” American Political Science Review 53 (01): 69–105.
Simonovits, Gabor, Jennifer McCoy, and Levente Littvay. 2022. “Democratic Hypocrisy and Out-group Threat: Explaining Citizen Support for Democratic Erosion.” Journal of Politics, January. https://doi.org/10.1086/719009.
Wuttke, Alexander, Konstantin Gavras, and Harald Schoen. 2020. “Leader of the Free World or Pioneer in Democracy’s Decline? Examining the Democratic Deconsolidation Hypothesis on the Mass Level in East and West Germany.” Research & Politics 7 (1): 1–10.