A growing body of evidence suggests that support for a strong non-democratic leader is driven, in part, by low economic development and economic inequality at the country level, and low income and interpersonal trust at the individual level. In the current research, we tested the hypothesis that although such a pattern predicts support for a strong non-democratic leader in democracies, it should produce decreased support for a strong non-democratic leader in non-democracies (where the presence of such leaders is the political status quo). Using three waves of World Values Survey data (2005-2020), as predicted, we found that in democracies, low economic development, high inequality, and low interpersonal trust predicted support for a strong non-democratic leader. However, in non-democracies, support for a strong non-democratic leader was higher in more economically developed countries and among individuals with higher social trust. These results contradict modernization theory’s proposition that development promotes support for democratic rule and suggest that economic development reinforces support for the existing political system.