Research News

New AmericasBarometer Insights offers concise public policy analyses

Results from an unprecedented collection of public opinion data in 23 nations on wide-ranging political issues and their policy implications are included in the new AmericasBarometer Insights, a series of short studies now available to the public.

The Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) at Vanderbilt University carried out a survey from more than 38,000 interviews in countries in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean to produce the studies, each one focusing on a single topic.

The Insights series not only presents the data and explains the factors that produce variation in opinion among individuals and across countries, it also reports on policy implications of those results," said Mitchell A. Seligson, Centennial Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt and the founder and director of LAPOP.

The initial study examines citizen views of the proper role of the government versus the private sector in job creation. Among the findings, citizens who experience a higher level of economic growth in their countries are more likely to support an active role for the government in creating employment. The findings, which also show high overall support for government-sponsored job creation, help explain the electoral shift to the left in Latin American elections in recent years, Seligson said. He noted that leftist candidates often favor the government playing an active role in many areas of the economy and society.

The second study analyzes the extent to which people in Latin America trust political parties and explores the main determinants of these levels of trust. The research has found generally low levels of confidence in parties among Latin American citizens. According to Seligson, the findings suggest that parties can significantly increase trust by improving the effectiveness of government, such as delivery of services, while they are in power.

The studies are made possible by a generous grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with additional funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program and Vanderbilt.

To receive electronic copies of the AmericasBarometer Insights series, send an email to More detailed information about specific countries can be found at

Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS