Varieties of Democracy Project Releases Pilot Study Data
February 9, 2012
Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is an ambitious effort, partially funded by the Kellogg Institute, to measure hundreds of attributes of democracy for all countries from 1900 to the present. The work involved is daunting—but doable, the project investigators have concluded after successfully completing a pilot study.
Between May 2011 and January 2012, the V-Dem team carried out a pilot study of 12 countries—Albania, Burma/Myanmar, Egypt, Ghana, Japan, Mexico, Russia/USSR, South Africa, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, and Yemen (North and South).
Ninety-five country experts completed online questionnaires on political institutions and practices that are relevant for understanding all types of democracy: participatory, consensual, majoritarian, deliberative, and egalitarian, in addition to electoral or liberal democracy.
According to Kellogg Faculty Fellow Michael Coppedge, one of the principal investigators, “The purpose of the pilot study was to find out which of our questions elicited reliable responses and how our online survey interface should be improved.
“We find the results very encouraging. They show that it is possible to measure democracy in a very fine-grained way, with quite plausible variation from year to year, country to country, and dimension to dimension.”
The Kellogg Institute is the US institutional home for this international collaborative effort, which involves 15 scholars in the United States, Europe, and Chile. Its European institutional home is the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
V-Dem aims to produce data that will both expand the democratization research agenda and improve the evaluation of democracy promotion programs around the world. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributed most of the funding for the pilot study.
More information about V-Dem is available at https://v-dem.net, including data for download and visualization interfaces that can generate line graphs and distribution graphs for any of the questions, countries, and years included in the pilot study.