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- Cross-national; Tolerance
Scholars of political tolerance have limited their investigations to the most developed democracies in the world, with few exceptions. This research seeks to redress this shortfall by analyzing tolerance for civil liberties across democracies of varying stability and development. To what extent do the explanations of tolerance derived from previous studies on developed states apply elsewhere? In exploring this question, this study disaggregates the effects of national context from the characteristics of individuals. Data on individuals are drawn from the World Values Survey, a dataset which includes representative samples from dozens of nations. Institutional, economic, and conflict intensity data from various sources are combined to test the impact of national context on tolerance. As found in previous studies, age and education are strongly related to tolerance. At the contextual-level, the intensity of recent armed conflicts is the best predictor of average tolerance across nations, even when controlling for political and economic attributes. This finding contributes to the growing body of evidence citing threat as an antecedent of intolerance. In this case the effect is especially surprising, as the groups against which respondents chose to discriminate are generally not involved in the conflict.