“Causes and Effects of the Parts of Democracy We Cannot See”
When we combine specific indicators into a summary index to measure a general concept, such as human development, the rule of law, judicial power, legislative strength, or democracy itself, the usual approach is to treat all of the indicators as reflections, or symptoms, of the underlying concept. But some indicators are better understood as causes of the phenomenon we are trying to measure. We introduce an approach relatively unknown in political science but that lends itself to this kind of application, and use Varieties of Democracy data, which include many indicators that can be used in this way. We provide several examples and assess what difference this technique makes.