Does Social Media Penetration Enhance Democratic Institutions? Evidence from Varieties of Democracy Data

Alex O. Acheampong*, John Taden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

We examine whether social media enhances democracy using cross-sectional data from 145 countries. We used Facebook penetration as a proxy for social media. Also, based on the complex definition of democracy, high-level indices, such as egalitarian, participatory, liberal, electoral, and deliberative democracies, were used to capture democracy. Our endogeneity-corrected results documented that high social media penetration, on average, enhances all forms of democracy. In descending order, social media penetration has contributed more to enhancing democracy in high-income economies, followed by lower-middle and upper-middle income economies. In low-income economies, social media penetration has a negative effect on democracy indices. We also documented heterogeneity in the findings based on regions. Marginal analysis also revealed that the positive effect of social media on democracy is higher in countries with higher internet penetration. We suggest that with appropriate interventions, policymakers could leverage social media to enhance democratic institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalSocial Indicators Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2024

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