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Varieties of DemocracyNew Data and Analysis from Varieties of Democracy Project

Elizabeth Rankin • April 9, 2015

Democracy data for 120 countries around the world is now available for online graphing and analysis, the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project has announced.

“This makes us well on our way to the goal of providing access to data for all the world’s countries by the end of 2015,” says Faculty Fellow Michael Coppedge, one of V-Dem’s co-PIs.

An international collaboration based in the United States at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and in Europe at the University of Gothenberg’s Varieties of Democracy Institute, V-Dem aims to make new kinds of democracy research and policy assessment possible by quantifying hundreds of aspects of democracy in all countries from 1900 to the present.

The newly available material includes the addition of 30 countries to the dataset as well as updating many countries to include 2013–14 data. Currently, 60 countries are covered for 1900–2012 and 60 countries for 1900–2014. 

V-DemThe V-Dem data includes 5 democracy indices (deliberative, egalitarian, electoral, liberal, and participatory), numerous democracy-component indices, and data on more than 370 democracy indicators. All the data can be examined using sophisticated online analysis tools, which now include the possibility of analyzing regions as well as individual countries.

In addition to the data itself, the V-Dem site also includes the first briefing and working papers produced by team members now using the data to look at questions in new ways over time.

“The number and range of innovative analyses now underway are really exciting,” says Coppedge, who is himself immersed in such research.

He and Kellogg PhD Fellow Lucía Tiscornia presented the latest version of their paper “Varieties of Democratic Diffusion: Colonial Networks,” coauthored with V-Dem co-PI Staffan I. Lindberg, in the Kellogg Institute lecture series this week.

“My earlier work with [former Visiting Fellow] Dan Brinks* found that countries influence each other in some way but didn’t provide any clues about channels of influence,” he says. “This paper tells us democratic diffusion has to do with networks set up during colonial rule.”

The work grows out of V-Dem data that provide something hitherto unavailable: historical ratings on democracy in colonies.

“It makes it possible to explore the impact of colonizers on colonies and of colonies on colonizers for the first time,” says Coppedge.

He is also working on or planning projects on such topics as which dimensions of democracy best explain human development, which aspects of democracy are best explained by national income, and how best to construct indices to measure complex concepts.

“V-Dem data open up a huge new range of possibilities for research,” Coppedge says.  “I think it is going to be really interesting to see what questions others address as they begin to dive into this newly available data.”


*Daniel Brinks and Michael Coppedge, “Diffusion Is No Illusion,” Comparative Political Studies 39, 4 (2006)


 

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