How Free Are You?

Democracy: Everybody wants more of it, but can anyone measure how much a country already has? As more officials and international organizations argue that a country’s level of democracy is a key development indicator, analysts are under pressure to come up with better empirical measurements. Herewith a guide to some of the most comprehensive research ...

Democracy: Everybody wants more of it, but can anyone measure how much a country already has? As more officials and international organizations argue that a country's level of democracy is a key development indicator, analysts are under pressure to come up with better empirical measurements. Herewith a guide to some of the most comprehensive research and evaluation tools available. Readers may also wish to consult the United Nations Development Programme 2002 human development report, "Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World."

Democracy: Everybody wants more of it, but can anyone measure how much a country already has? As more officials and international organizations argue that a country’s level of democracy is a key development indicator, analysts are under pressure to come up with better empirical measurements. Herewith a guide to some of the most comprehensive research and evaluation tools available. Readers may also wish to consult the United Nations Development Programme 2002 human development report, "Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World."


FREEDOM IN THE WORLD
Organization: Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org)
Created in: 1978
Methodology: This annual survey designates countries as "Free," "Partly Free," or "Not Free" on the basis of survey data on political rights and civil liberties.

DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE SURVEYS
Organization: International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) (www.ifes.org)
Created in: 1994
Methodology: IFES conducts opinion surveys and focus groups to assess public confidence in elections and democratic institutions.

VOTER TURNOUT SINCE 1945: A GLOBAL REPORT
Organization: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) (www.idea.int)
Created in: 2002, with continual updates posted on the organization’s Web site
Methodology: Report is based on information from International IDEA’s database and supplemented with data from governments, universities, and research institutes. The survey includes voter turnout data on over 170 countries.

DEFENDING DEMOCRACY: A GLBOAL SURVEY OF FOREIGN POLICY TRENDS 1992–2002
Organization: Democracy Coalition Project (www.demcoalition.org)
Created in: 2002
Methodology: The survey rates 40 countries on the basis of whether their foreign policy supports democracy in other states.

COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES
Organization: U.S. Department of State (www.state.gov/g/drl/hr)
Created in: 1977
Methodology: Reports are researched by U.S. Embassy and State Department staff and cover areas pertinent to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are submitted annually to Congress.

POLITY IV DATASET
Organization: University of Maryland’s Center for International Development and Conflict Management (www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/polity)
Created in: 1975
Methodology: Updated twice each year, the Polity IV Dataset describes the regimes of independent countries with a population of at least 500,000.

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