Citizens’ Perceptions of Government Policy Success: A Cross-National Study

Nurgul R. Aitalieva, Andrew L. Morelock


What explains citizens’ perceptions of government policy success? To answer this question, we use multilevel modelling strategies to examine data gathered across 21 national samples from the 2006 International Social Survey Programme’s (ISSP) Role of Government IV module. Our dependent variable is an index of perceived governmental policy success in six areas. Our analysis reveals that citizens’ evaluations of the success of public policies vary within countries as well as between countries. Our multilevel models indicate that variation in perceptions within countries is largely a function of individual sociodemographic attributes and political attitudes. In contrast, across country variation in perceptions is mainly a function of the quality of public institutions within a country and, to a lesser extent, prevailing economic conditions. These results suggest that citizens’ perceptions of government are not merely influenced by objective outcomes of public policy, they are also influenced by the degree of procedural fairness, professionalism, and integrity within public institutions.


Government Performance; Citizen Perceptions of government; Quality of Public Sector Institutions

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