Friday, January 19, 2018

Democracy Data, Updated

(Of interest mostly to political scientists or other users of country-year democracy data)

Quick announcement: I’ve just updated my democracyData and QuickUDS R packages (described in this post at more length) to incorporate the latest data from Freedom House (Freedom in the World 2018) and most recent update of the voice and accountability index from the Worldwide Governance Indicators. The democracyData package ( allows you to download, tidy, and use a wide variety of datasets with regime and democracy indicators, while the QuickUDS package ( the construction of Unified Democracy Scores-style latent variable indexes of democracy.

Here’s what Freedom House’s latest data (use with care!) says about the average level of freedom in the world (all countries equally weighted):

Or aggregated by status (free, partly free, not free):

Not so much evidence of a democratic recession, but some evidence of stagnation.

And here in some selected countries:

For contrast, here’s what my version of the Unified Democracy Scores (which incorporate the Freedom House scores as one of their inputs) says about the average level of democracy in the world:

This measure shows a bit more evidence of a decline in the average level of democracy in the world over the past few years, at least according to the indices commonly used by political scientists. This may be simply because only REIGN and Freedom House have data for 2017 so far, so best not to take that dip for 2017 too seriously.

And again the extended UDS for selected countries:

Finally, here’s what the Varieties of Democracy dataset, which I consider to have the best and most flexible set of measures, says:

Here there is only a hint of a downturn in the average level of democracy in the world (but note V-Dem has not yet been updated with 2017 data).

And here is what this data looks like for selected countries:


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