Working Papers

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State Capacity, Incumbent Turnover and Democratic Change in Authoritarian Elections

Authors: Carolien van Ham, Brigitte Seim 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 51. June 2017

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A modified version of this working paper was published as:

Carolien van Ham, Brigitte Seim (2017). "Strong states, weak elections? How state capacity in authoritarian regimes conditions the democratizing power of elections". IPSR, June 2017. 

Abstract:

Under what conditions do elections lead to democratization or conversely, sustain authoritarianism? State capacity may be a crucial intervening variable affecting the democratizing power of elections in authoritarian regimes. In regimes with limited state capacity, manipulating elections, co-opting elites, and repressing opposition is more difficult than in regimes with more extensive state capacity, rendering turnover in elections more likely in weak states. Yet, while increasing the chances of turnover, if the new incumbent has limited capacity to deliver public services and make policy changes after coming to power, democratic change is unlikely to be sustainable. Hence, state capacity may be a double-edged sword. This paper tests these expectations using Varieties of Democracy data for 460 elections in 110 authoritarian regimes from 1974 to 2012, and finds that state capacity is negatively associated with incumbent turnover but positively associated with democratic change after incumbent turnover in electoral authoritarian regimes.

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Information and Revolution

Author: Steven Lloyd Wilson

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 50. June 2017

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Abstract:

How does the Internet affect authoritarian regimes? This article argues that while the Internet has made mass mobilization easier than ever, its spread has also counter-intuitively allowed savvy authoritarian regimes to become more stable than ever. For the population, higher technical literacy means a demonstrable decrease in transaction costs and thus a greater incidence of collective action. However, higher regime technical literacy gives authoritarians the capacity to monitor their populations and solve the dictator’s information problem, thus keeping their populations satisfied without needing to liberalize. The article compiles a new and original data set of measures of technical literacy across all states since the year 2000, and used a factor analysis approach to construct latent measures of population and regime technical literacy for all country-years. A large-n, cross-country empirical approach finds strong evidence of the theorized relationship between technical literacy and revolution.

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The Autocratic Trust Bias: Politically Sensitive Survey Items and Self-censorship

Author: Marcus Tannenberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 49. June 2017

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Abstract:

Because of the perceived risk of repression some survey questions are likely sensitive in more autocratic countries while less so in more democratic countries. Yet, survey data on potentially sensitive topics are frequently used in comparative research despite concerns about comparability. In a novel approach to test the comparability of politically sensitive questions I employ a multilevel-analysis with more than 80 000 respondents in 36 African countries to test for systematic bias when the survey respondents believe (fear) that the government has commissioned the survey, as opposed to an independent research institute. The findings indicate that fear of the government induces a substantial and significant bias on questions regarding the citizen-state relationship in more autocratic countries, but not in more democratic countries. This has practical implications for the comparative use of survey data.

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The V-Dem Party Institutionalization Index: a new global indicator (1900-2015)

Authors: Fernando Bizzarro, Allen Hicken, Darin Self

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 48. May 2017

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Abstract:

Because levels of party institutionalization may affect the availability of good data, existing datasets have limited reliability and coverage. To overcome these problems, we introduce the V-Dem Party Institutionalization Index, the first global country-level index on the issue. It covers – as of May 2017 – 173 countries for 116 years (1900-2016). Its geographical coverage, timespan, and conceptual reach are larger than any existing alternative. We offer an additive index that measures the scope and depth of party institutionalization in a country every year. Scope is measured by the proportion of parties that reach a threshold of minimal institutionalization, while the linkages party establish with the masses and the elites define the depth. Exploring a set of well-known cases, we show that: the index has extensive face validity, is consistent across regime types, and is comparable to other established indicators of institutionalization.

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Regimes In the World (RIW): A Robust Regime Type Measure based on V-Dem

Authors: Anna Lührmann, Staffan I. Lindberg, Marcus Tannenberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 47. May 2017

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Abstract:

Classifying political regimes has never been as difficult as in this day and age. Most regimes in the world now hold de-jure multiparty elections with universal suffrage. Yet, in some countries these elections ensure that political rulers are – at least somewhat – accountable to the electorate whereas in others they are a mere window dressing exercise for authoritarian politics. Hence, regime types need to be distinguished based on the de-facto implementation of democratic rules. To this end, researchers increasingly turn to expert-coded data sets such as the new Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset. Using V-Dem data, we propose an operationalization of four important regime types – closed and electoral autocracies; electoral and liberal democracies – with vast coverage (almost all countries form 1900 to 2016) and precision. Our new Regimes in the World (RIW) measure includes uncertainty estimates to identify countries in the grey zone between regime types and account for inter-coder disagreement. In cases of disagreement with other datasets (7-12% of the cases), we classify regimes with severe electoral manipulation and infringements of the political freedoms more frequently as electoral autocracies than other datasets, which suggests that our measure captures the opaqueness of contemporary autocracies better. 

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Constraining Governments: New Indices of Vertical, Horizontal and Diagonal Accountability

Authors: Anna Lührmann, Kyle L. Marquardt, Valeriya Mechkova

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 46. April 2017

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Abstract:

Accountability - constraints on the government’s use of political power - is one of the cornerstones of good governance. However, conceptual stretching and a lack of reliable measures have limited cross-national research and comparisons regarding the role of both accountability writ large and its different sub-types. To address this research gap, we use the V-Dem dataset and Bayesian statistical models to develop new ways to conceptualize and measure accountability and its core dimensions. We provide indices capturing the extent to which governments are accountable to citizens (vertical accountability), other state institutions (horizontal accountability) and the media and civil society (diagonal accountability), as well as an aggregate index that incorporates the three sub-types.  These indices cover virtually all countries from 1900 to today. We demonstrate the validity of our new measures by analyzing trends from key countries, as well as by demonstrating that the measures are positively related to development outcomes such as health and education.

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V-Dem Comparisons and Contrasts with Other Measurement Projects

Authors: Michael Coppedge, John Gerring, Staffan I. Lindberg, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 45. April 2017

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Abstract:

For policymakers, activists, academics, and citizens around the world the conceptualization and measurement of democracy matters. The needs of democracy promoters and social scientists are convergent. We all need better ways to measure democracy. In the first section of this document we critically review the field of democracy indices. It is important to emphasize that problems identified with extant indices are not easily solved, and some of the issues we raise vis-à-vis other projects might also be raised in the context of the V-Dem project. Measuring an abstract and contested concept such as democracy is hard and some problems of conceptualization and measurement may never be solved definitively. In the second section we discuss in general terms how the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project differs from extant indices and how the novel approach taken by V-Dem might assist the work of activists, professionals, and scholars. 

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Autocrats and Skyscrapers: Modern White Elephants in Dictatorships

Authors: Haakon Gjerlow, Carl Henrik Knutsen

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 44. April 2017

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Abstract:

Political leaders often have private incentives to pursue expensive and socially wasteful "white elephant" projects. Our argument highlights that weak accountability mechanisms allow autocratic leaders to more easily realize such projects, whereas democratic leaders are more constrained from doing so. We subsequently test different implications from this argument by drawing on a global dataset recording various features of skyscrapers, a prominent type of modern white elephant. We find that autocracies systematically build more new skyscrapers than democracies, and this result is robust to controlling for income level, state control over the economy, and country- and year-fixed effects. Further, autocratic skyscrapers are more excessive and wasteful than democratic. Autocratic regimes also pursue skyscraper projects no matter if they preside over rural or urban societies. In contrast, skyscrapers are fewer and - when first built - associated with less waste in democracies, and they are more frequently built urbanized democracies than in rural.

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Democracy and Corruption: A Global Time-Series Analysis with V-Dem Data

Authors: Kelly M. McMann, Brigitte Seim, Jan Teorell, and Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 43. March 2017

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Abstract:

Theory predicts democracy should reduce corruption.  Yet, numerous scholars have found empirically that corruption decreases at high levels of democracy but actually increases at low levels.  A key weaknesses of studies that aim to explain this inverted curvilinear relationship, however, is that they do not disaggregate the complex concept of democracy. By contrast, this working paper disaggregates democracy theoretically and empirically. Our theoretical framework shows how components of democracy affect costs and benefits of engaging in corruption and, therefore, the level of corruption overall.  Whereas other studies examine only how democratic accountability imposes costs on those engaging in corruption and thus illuminate only the downward curve of the relationship, we also examine the transaction costs and political support benefits of corruption and therefore can explain the initial uptick in corruption at low levels of democracy.  Using measures of democratic components from Varieties of Democracy, we examine 173 countries from 1900 to 2012 and find that freedoms of expression and association exhibit the inverted curvilinear relationship with corruption, and that judicial constraints have a negative linear relationship. Moreover, the introduction of elections and the quality of elections act jointly, but each in a linear fashion. The mere introduction of elections increases corruption, thus accounting for the upward sloping segment of the inverted curve. Once the quality of elections begins to improve, corruption decreases, resulting in the downward-sloping segment of the curve.   

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Explaining the Erosion of Democracy: Can Economic Growth Hinder Democracy?

Authors: Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, David Altman

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 42. March 2017

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Abstract:

Economic growth has become one of the leitmotivs academicians and pundits ask once and again to assess democratic endurance over time. While large portion of the literature posits that economic growth is positive for democracy (eg. Przeworski et al. 2000), for other scholars it is a profoundly destabilizing force (eg. Olson 1963; Huntington 1968). This paper fills these contrasting views asking whether economic growth can undermine democratic competition. We hypothesize that the relation between economic growth and party competition is mediated by the strength of political institutions and free expression. Economic growth promotes incumbency advantage. Rulers can artificially extend this advantage by narrowing the space for negative coverage and dissident voices as long as they have political room for maneuvering. We leverage exogenously-driven growth in Latin America to test this argument. Over the past two decades, the region experienced accelerated growth as a result of a global commodity boom. Using data for 18 Latin American countries during this period, we show that faster economic growth led to significant increases in incumbency advantage in the legislature only where free speech was under attack. Our findings have important implications for literatures on democratization, natural resources, and economic voting.

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IRT models for expert-coded panel data 

Authors: Kyle L. Marquardt, Daniel Pemstein 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 41. January 2017

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Abstract:

Data sets quantifying phenomena of social-scientific interest often use multiple experts to code latent concepts. While it remains standard practice to report the average score across experts, experts likely vary in both their expertise and their interpretation of question scales. As a result, the mean may be an inaccurate statistic. Item-response theory (IRT) models provide an intuitive method for taking these forms of expert disagreement into account when aggregating ordinal ratings produced by experts, but they have rarely been applied to cross- national expert-coded panel data. In this article, we investigate the utility of IRT models for aggregating expert-coded data by comparing the performance of various IRT models to the standard practice of reporting average expert codes, using both real and simulated data. Specifically, we use expert-coded cross-national panel data from the V–Dem data set to both conduct real-data comparisons and inform ecologically-motivated simulation studies. We find that IRT approaches outperform simple averages when experts vary in reliability and exhibit differential item functioning (DIF). IRT models are also generally robust even in the absence of simulated DIF or varying expert reliability. Our findings suggest that producers of cross-national data sets should adopt IRT techniques to aggregate expert-coded data of latent concepts. 

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The Effectiveness of Democracy Aid to Different Regime Types and Democracy Sectors

Authors: Anna Lührmann, Kelly McMann, Carolien van Ham

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 40. January 2017

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Abstract:

Large-N studies suggest that democracy aid is effective, while multiple small-N investigations call such findings into question. This paper accounts for this contradiction and significantly improves our understanding of democracy aid effectiveness by disaggregating democracy aid into specific types and examining effectiveness in different regime types. We argue that a specific type of aid is more likely to be effective when the aid does not pose a threat to regime survival and when the aid matches the particular democratic deficits in a country. Analysis of OECD aid and Varieties of Democracy data for 119 countries from 2002-2012 supports our argument.        

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Local Democracy and Economic Growth

Authors: Carl Henrik Knutsen, John Gerring, Svend-Erik Skaaning

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 39. November 2016

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Abstract:

Theoretical work on the institutional sources of economic growth regards decentralization and democracy in a positive light. Despite this, empirical work shows that neither fiscal decentralization nor national democracy is a robust predictor of per capita GDP growth. We argue that these theories have failed to bear fruit because they ignore the linchpin of decentralization and democracy, namely local democracy. Democracy at a local level enhances economic growth by enabling decentralized policy selection and incentivizing local politicians to select policies that benefit economic development, including the provision of local public goods. We test for the relationship using a novel measure of local democracy with global coverage and time series extending from 1900 to the present. We find robust evidence that local democracy nurtures growth. This relationship holds up when accounting for country- and year-fixed effects, when controlling for democracy at the national level, and when we treat our measure of local democracy as an endogenous regressor. Additional tests reveal that the relationship is clearer in contexts where our argument suggests that it should operate more strongly, namely (national- level) democracies and in periods and regions where local-level institutions have a more pronounced role in policy-making. 

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Going Historical: Measuring Democraticness before the Age of Mass Democracy

Authors: Carl Henrik Knutsen, Jørgen Møller, Svend-Erik Skaaning

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 38. November 2016

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A modified version of this working paper was published as:

Knutsen, Carl Henrik, Jørgen Møller and Svend-Erik Skaaning, "Going Historical: Measuring Democraticness before the Age of Mass Democracy". International Political Science ReviewVolume 37, Issue 5, November 2016

Abstract:

Most studies of democratic developments are limited to the period after World War II. However, political regimes varied according to different aspects of democracy long before the establishment of modern liberal mass democracies. We come down strongly in favor of collecting disaggregate and fine-grained historical data on democratic features. Based on a distinction between competition, participation, and constraints, we discuss previous attempts at historical measurement and address the specific challenges that pertain to scoring political regimes in, first, the “long 19th century” and, second, medieval and early modern Europe.

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Suicide by Competition?  Authoritarian Institutional Adaptation and Regime Fragility

Authors: Michael Bernhard, Amanda B. Edgell, Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 37. October 2016

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Abstract:

While it is clear that contemporary authoritarian incumbents use democratic emulation as a strategy in the hopes of stabilizing and extending their tenure in power, this does not mean it is always effective. Indeed, an extant literature presents strong evidence that the opening of the pursuit of power to electoral competition can make authoritarianism vulnerable. Unless it is mediated by other factors, democratic emulation by authoritarian incumbents cannot simultaneously both stabilize their rule and make it more vulnerable to democratic transitions. These two literatures leave us with a set of contradictory generalizations.  Some scholars argue that reiterated multiparty competitive elections present a gradual path from authoritarianism to democracy.  Can they at the same time be a source of authoritarian stability?  In this paper we seek to resolve this paradox by employing a unique combination of event history modeling to assess how experiences with multiparty elections influence patterns of authoritarian survival and transition in 108 countries from 1946-2010. Our results suggest that while authoritarian regimes face increasing odds of failure during the first three iterated multiparty and competitive election cycles, subsequent iterated cycles are far less dangerous to their survival.  Given that few authoritarian regimes survive past three elections, these findings should be seen as more supportive of the democratization by elections thesis than democratic emulation as a way to enhance authoritarian survival.

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Public Trust in Elections: The Role of Election Administration Autonomy and Media Freedom

Authors: Nicholas Kerr, Anna Lührmann

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 36. September 2016

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Abstract:

As multiparty elections have become a global norm, scholars and policy experts regard public trust in elections as vital for regime legitimacy. However, very few cross-national studies have examined the consequences of electoral manipulation, including the manipulation of election administration and the media, on citizens’ trust in elections. This paper addresses this gap by exploring how autonomy of election management bodies (EMBs) and media freedom individually and conjointly shape citizens’ trust in elections. Citizens are more likely to express confidence in elections when EMBs display de-facto autonomy, and less likely to do so when media entities disseminate information independent of government control. Additionally, we suggest that EMB autonomy may not have a positive effect on public trust in elections if media freedom is low. Empirical findings based on recent survey data on public trust in 47 elections and expert data on de-facto EMB autonomy and media freedom support our hypotheses.

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“Gimme Shelter”: The Role of Democracy and Institutional Quality in Disaster Preparedness

Authors: Tove Ahlbom, Marina Povitkina

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 35. August 2016

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Abstract:

Natural disasters cause suffering for millions of people around the globe every year and as climate change unfolds the likelihood of natural catastrophes is increasing. While weather shocks, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are beyond our control, a governments’ capacity to protect populations largely determines the degree of human suffering in disasters. Democracies, with freedom of speech, broad public participation and representation, are believed to protect their populations better than non-democratic regimes. However, democratic institutions are insufficient for securing protection from disasters in contexts of corruption, poor planning and public administration incompetence. We argue that the effect of democracy on the extent of human suffering in disasters is contingent on the ability of governments to implement their tasks or the quality of implementing institutions. We test this interaction hypothesis using time series cross-sectional data from the Varieties of Democracy project, the Quality of Government dataset and data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The results show that more democracy is associated with fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states.

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Democracy, Democratization, and Civil War

Authors: Suthan Krishnarajan, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk and Svend-Erik Skaaning

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 34. August 2016

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Abstract:

An influential body of scholarship has associated both democracy and democratization with civil war. Important findings include the so-called inverted U-shaped relationship between democracy-levels and civil war onset and that propensity for democratic openings to spark internal violence. However, most of these findings have been challenged, particularly by scholars pointing to problems with the aggregate nature of the analyses and the data sources used. Against this background, we enlist new, fine-grained data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. We discuss how the new data can be used to disaggregate regime variables in order to better understand the causal dynamics that link the regime form and regime change to civil war onset, if any. Guided by these considerations, we use the new data to reassess the ‘inverted U-curve’. Our analysis shows that this relationship is driven by ‘liberal’ aspects of democracy such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech rather than by the ‘electoral core’ of democracy. The relationship between clean elections and civil war onset is approximately linearly decreasing, and at the indicator level of the clean elections attribute we find several different patterns.

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Sequential Requisites Analysis: A New Method for Analyzing Sequential Relationships in Ordinal Data 

Authors: Patrik Lindenfors, Joshua Krusell, Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 33. June 2016

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Abstract:

This paper presents a new method inspired by evolutionary biology for analyzing longer sequences of requisites for the emergence of particular outcome variables across numerous combinations of ordinal variables in social science analysis. The approach involves repeated pairwise investigations of states in a set of variables and identifying what states in the variables that occur before states in all other variables. We illustrate the proposed method by analyzing a set of variables from version 6 of the V-Dem dataset (Coppedge et al. 2015a, b). With a large set of indicators measured over many years, the method makes it possible to explore long, complex sequences across many variables in quantitative datasets. This affords an opportunity, for example, to disentangle the sequential requisites of failing and successful sequences in democratization. For policy purposes this is instrumental: Which components of democracy are most exogenous and least endogenous and therefore the ideal targets for democracy promotion at different stages? 

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Beyond First Elections: The Importance of Consistency in the Timing of Recurrent Elections 

Authors: Matthew Charles Wilson, Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 32. June 2016

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Abstract:

Is the regularity of elections a requisite for political stability? Scholars have empirically examined a number of features regarding elections in new democracies, including frequency, alternation, and orderliness, but little work has considered the potential impacts of consistency in the intervals in which they occur. Notwithstanding, predominant conceptualizations of democracy require that governments hold elections at regular intervals. This study examines the extent to which the regularity of the intervals in which elections occur affects political stability. Using newly released data from the Varieties of Democracy project, we estimate a model predicting internal armed conflict based on the pattern of previous elections. We argue that consistent election intervals send a valuable signal of actors’ commitment to regularly hold elections, in part by providing a focal point for coordinated actions in the future. By better specifying the multiple ways in which elections are time-dependent, the analysis contributes to a more robust consideration of the means by which elections promote power-sharing under tenuous circumstances. 

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Democratization in Conflict Studies: How Conceptualization Affects Operationalization and Testing Outcomes 

Authors: Michael Bernhard, Ömer Faruk Örsün, Reşat Bayer 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 31. June 2016

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A modified version of this working paper:

Michael Bernhard, Ömer Faruk Örsün, Reşat Bayer. (Published online: 15 Nov 2016). Democratization in Conflict Studies: How Conceptualization Affects Operationalization and Testing Outcomes. International Interactions. 

Abstract:

Using the debate over democratization and conflict, we demonstrate how the connec- tion between conceptualization and operationalization can play a decisive role in the testing of falsifiable hypotheses. We discuss seven different operationalizations of regime change based on three different conceptualizations of democracy. Although we find high correlations between different measures of democracy, when they are used to capture regime change the correlations drop precipitously. In multivariate estimations of the effect of regime change on a range of conflict variables, we generate widely disparate results, providing no consistent support that democratization affects conflict. We thus demonstrate that decisions about conceptualization and subsequent operationalization have decisive impact on the inference we produce. In con- trast, our controls for the effect of institutionalized democracy consistently show a negative re- lationship between joint democracy and conflict. Finally, autocratic regime change seems to be more robustly correlated with a range of conflict behaviors than heretofore recognized in this literature. 

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Choosing from the Menu of Manipulation: Explaining Incumbents’ Choices of Electoral Manipulation Tactics 

Authors: Carolien van Ham, Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 30. June 2016

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Abstract:

How do political actors choose between different tactics of electoral manipulation, and how does the context in which elections take place shape those decisions? In this paper we argue that choices for specific manipulative tactics are driven by available resource and cost considerations, as well as evaluations of the effectiveness of various tactics. We further argue that cost considerations are importantly shaped by the context in which elections take place, most notably by the level of democratization. We test our hypotheses on a complete time- series-cross-section dataset for 1506 elections in 160 electoral regimes around the world from 1974 to 2012. We find that democratization initially leads to increases in vote buying as “cheap” forms of electoral manipulation available to incumbents such as intimidation and manipulating electoral administration become less viable. 

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A General Theory of Power Concentration: Demographic Influences on Political Organization 

Authors: John Gerring, Jillian Jaeger, Matthew Maguire 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 29. April 2016

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Abstract:

Why is the exercise of political power highly concentrated in some polities and widely dispersed in others? We argue that one persistent causal factor is demographic. Populous polities are characterized by less concentrated structures of authority. To explain this relationship we invoke two mechanisms: efficiency and trust. The theory is demonstrated with a wide variety of empirical measures and in two settings: (1) cross-country analyses including most sovereign states and extending back to the 19th century and (2) within-country analyses focused on states, counties, and localities in the United States. 

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Governing Countries: A Theory of Subnational Regime Variation ​

Authors: Kelly M. McMann, John Gerring, Matthew Maguire, Michael Coppedge and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 28. March 2016

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Abstract:

Studies of a small number of countries have revealed that both democratic and non-democratic subnational governments can exist within a single country. However, these works have neither demonstrated how common subnational regime variation is nor explained why some countries are more prone to it. This paper does both. Using Varieties of Democracy subnational data for countries of the world from 1900 to 2012, we show that subnational regime variation exists throughout all regions, in both unitary and federal states, and in both the present and past. The paper also demonstrates theoretically and empirically how social heterogeneity and factors undermining the national government’s ability to broadcast power promote this variation. Specifically, subnational regime variation is more common in countries that are ethnically and economically diverse, rugged, and populous. These measures, our theory, and the benchmark models we developed will spur new research in regime types and change. 

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UN Electoral Assistance: Does it Matter for Election Management?

Author: Anna Lührmann

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 27(2) revised. June 2016

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Previous version of this paper is available here:  V-Dem Working Paper 2016_27.pdf (2.6 MB)

Abstract:

Between 2007 and 2014 the United Nations (UN) provided technical, financial and logistical assistance to half of all elections held outside of established democracies. Does UN Electoral Assistance (UNEA) substantially contribute to the quality of election management? My analysis of original data on UNEA in combination with new indicators from the Varieties of Democracy- Project suggests that elections with UNEA are on average better managed than elections without it. Case studies illustrate that UNEA can effectively supplement and develop election management capacities – at least if the incumbent regime complies with the provided advice. Nevertheless, serious deficiencies in terms of electoral freedom and fairness remain in many UN-supported elections due to challenging political contexts. 

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Measuring Subnational Democracy 

Author: Kelly M. McMann

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 26. March 2016

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A modified version of this working paper:

Kelly M. McMann (Forthcoming). Measuring Subnational Democracy: Toward Improved Regime Typologies and Theories of Regime Change. Democratization.

Abstract:

Social scientists and practitioners have been limited in their work by the paucity of data about subnational institutions and practices. Such data could help scholars refine regime typologies, improve theories of democratization and regime change, better understand subnational democracy, and illuminate issues of development, conflict, and governance. They could also enable democracy and development advocates to design more effective programs and officials to create better policies. This paper addresses the lack of data by introducing 22 subnational measures from a new dataset, Varieties of Democracy. Validity tests demonstrate that the measures’ strengths outweigh their weaknesses. The measures excel in covering all subnational levels for most countries, capturing different elements of subnational elections, and including a variety of dimensions of elections and civil liberties. The measures also offer unmatched global and temporal coverage. The paper demonstrates how these strengths can provide scholars and practitioners with the benefits described above. 

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Measuring Electoral Democracy with V-Dem Data: Introducing a New Polyarchy Index 

Authors: Jan Teorell, Michael Coppedge, Sven-Erik Skaaning, Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 25. March 2016

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Abstract:

This paper presents a new measure of electoral democracy, or "polyarchy", for a global sample of 173 countries from 1900 to the present based on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) data, enabling us to address several deficiencies in extant measures of electoral democracy, such as Freedom House and Polity. The V-Dem data derive from expert polls of more than 2,600 country experts from around the world, with on average 5 experts rating each indicator. By measuring the five components of “Elected officials”, “Free and fair elections”, “Freedom of expression”, “Associational autonomy” and “Inclusive citizenship” separately, we anchor this new index directly in Dahl’s (1971) extremely influential theoretical framework, and can both show how well indicators match components as well as how components map the overall index. We also find that characteristics of the V-Dem country experts do not systematically predict their ratings on our indicators, nor differences between these ratings and existing measures such as FH and Polity, with which they are strongly correlated. Finally, we provide systematic measures of uncertainty (or measurement error) at every level. We showcase the usefulness of the new measure for understanding developments of electoral democracy over time, for comparing countries at a particular time point, and for understanding its relationship to economic modernization through disaggregation. 

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Civil Society, Party Institutionalization, and Democratic Breakdown in the Interwar Period 

Authors: Agnes Cornell, Jørgen Møller, Svend-Erik Skaaning, and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 24. February 2016

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Abstract:

The relationship between the strength of civil society and democratic survival in the interwar period has been much debated. Prominent studies have questioned the existence of a positive association, arguing that the relationship is conditioned by the level of party institutionalization. This revisionist perspective has been vindicated by case studies of important European cases, in particular Germany and Italy. But due to a lack of cross-national data, neither the direct effect of civil society nor the alternative perspective has so far been subjected to a comprehensive statistical analysis. In this paper we enlist novel data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project that enable us to carry out such an assessment of all democratic spells in the interwar years. Our survival analysis demonstrates that a vibrant civil society generally contributed to democratic survival in this period and that this effect was not moderated by the level of party institutionalization. 

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Strategies of Validation: Assessing the Varieties of Democracy Corruption Data 

Authors: Kelly McMann, Daniel Pemstein, Brigitte Seim, Jan Teorell, and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 23. February 2016

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Abstract:

Social scientists face the challenge of determining whether their data are valid, yet they lack practical guidance about how to do so. Existing publications on data validation provide mostly abstract information for creating one’s own dataset or establishing that an existing one is adequate. Further, they tend to pit validation techniques against each other, rather than explain how to combine multiple approaches. By contrast, this paper provides a practical guide to data validation in which tools are used in a complementary fashion to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a dataset and thus reveal how it can most effectively be used. We advocate for three approaches, each incorporating multiple tools: 1) assessing content validity through an examination of the resonance, domain, differentiation, fecundity, and consistency of the measure; 2) evaluating data generation validity through an investigation of dataset management structure, data sources, coding procedures, aggregation methods, and geographic and temporal coverage; and 3) assessing convergent validity using case studies and empirical comparisons among coders and among measures. We apply our method to corruption measures from a new dataset, Varieties of Democracy. We show that the data are generally valid and we emphasize that a particular strength of the dataset is its capacity for analysis across countries and over time. These corruption measures represent a significant contribution to the field because, although research questions have focused on geographic differences and temporal trends, other corruption datasets have not been designed for this type of analysis. 

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The Index of Egalitarian Democracy and Its Components: V-Dem's Conceptualization and Measurement​

Authors: Rachel Sigman and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 22. December 2015

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A revised version forthcoming  2017.

Rachel Sigman and Staffan I. Lindberg. "Democracy for All: Conceptualizing and Measuring Egalitarian Democracy". Political Science Research and Methods.

Abstract:

Although equality figures prominently in many foundational theories of democracy, liberal conceptions of democracy have dominated empirical political science research on topics like political regimes, democratization and democratic survival. This paper develops the concept of egalitarian democracy as a regime that protects rights and freedoms equally across the population and distributes resources in a way that enables meaningful political participation across individuals and groups in society. Using new expert-coded indicators developed by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, the paper develops and presents measures of these important concepts, demonstrates their relationship to existing measures, and illustrates their utility for advancing the study of democracy in ways that more fully embrace the richness of democratic theory. 

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The V-Dem Measurement Model: Latent Variable Analysis for Cross-National and Cross-Temporal Expert-Coded Data​

Authors: Daniel Pemstein, Kyle L. Marquardt, Eitan Tzelgov, Yi-ting Wang, Joshua Krusell and Farhad Miri 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 21, 2nd edition. April 2017

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Abstract:

The Varieties of Democracy (V–Dem) project relies on country experts who code a host of ordinal variables, providing subjective ratings of latent - that is, not directly observable - regime characteristics over time. Sets of around five experts rate each case (country-year observation), and each of these raters works independently. Since raters may diverge in their coding because of either differences of opinion or mistakes, we require system- atic tools with which to model these patterns of disagreement. These tools allow us to aggregate ratings into point estimates of latent concepts and quantify our uncertainty around these point estimates. In this paper we describe item response theory models that can that account and adjust for differential item functioning (i.e. differences in how experts apply ordinal scales to cases) and variation in rater reliability (i.e. random error). We also discuss key challenges specific to applying item response theory to expert-coded cross-national panel data, explain the approaches that we use to address these challenges, highlight potential problems with our current framework, and describe long-term plans for improving our models and estimates. Finally, we provide an overview of the di↵erent forms in which we present model output. 

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Ordinal Versions of V-Dem’s Indices: For Classification, Description, Sequencing Analysis and Other Purposes​

Authors: Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 20. December 2015

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A modified version of this working paper was published as:

Lindberg, Staffan I. 2016. “Ordinal Versions of V-Dem’s Indices: When Interval Measures Are Not Useful for Classification, Description, and Sequencing Analysis Purposes,” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 8(2): 76–111. 

Abstract:

This paper makes the argument that for many descriptive purposes, as well as a series of important analytical endeavors, interval indices are not particularly useful (despite their many important advantages). Indices like all the ones V-Dem produces are thus in need of ordinal versions allowing for survival analyses, classification of regime categories, understanding and explaining successful transitions to democracy, breakdown of democratic regimes, as well as for the emerging area of sequence analysis. Second, this paper advances a set of coding rules that transforms the existing, original V- Dem indices to ordinal indices with three, four and five levels respectively. Users can determine which level of distinction is most useful for the research project, or the task of descriptive representation at hand. For the democracy indices that V-Dem supplies at the highest level of aggregation, the paper also suggests a classification of the levels into varying regime types. The resulting three ordinal versions of all of the 35 V-Dem indices are validated both by high correlations with the original indices, as well as by inspection of face validity over some over 10,000 graphs, each one comparing one of the three ordinal versions with the original index from 1900 to 2012 for a particular country. 

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Women’s Political Empowerment: A New Global Index, 1900-2012​

Authors: Aksel Sundström, Pamela Paxton, Yi-ting Wang and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 19. December 2015

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A revised version published:

Aksel Sundström, Pamela P Paxton, Yi-ting Wang, Staffan I Lindberg (2017). Women's political empowerment: A new global index, 1900-2012. World Development. Available online 16 February 2017.

Abstract:

The V-Dem index on women’s political empowerment provides information about women’s civil liberties, civil society participation, and political participation globally. Spanning from 1900 to 2012, three dimensions of empowerment, and over 170 countries, it is among the most comprehensive measures of women’s empowerment available. This paper presents a conceptualization of women’s political empowerment and provides an overview of the construction of the index and operationalization of its three sub-dimensions: Women’s civil liberties, civil society participation, and political participation. Compared to other indices measuring women’s empowerment, such as the GDI, the GEM, the GII and the CIRI data on human rights, the V-Dem index allows more precise measurement and is superior in temporal scope and coverage of countries of the Global South. The paper demonstrates the benefits of this new index and its sub-dimensions through several empirical illustrations. 

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Investigating Sequences in Ordinal Data: A New Approach with Adapted Evolutionary Models

Authors: Patrik Lindenfors, Fredrik Jansson, Yi-ting Wang and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 18. December 2015

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A revised version forthcoming  2017.

 

Patrik Lindenfors, Fredrik Jansson, Yi-ting Wang and Staffan I. Lindberg (Forthcoming). Investigating Sequences in Ordinal Data: A New Approach with Adapted Evolutionary Models. Political Science Research and Methods.

Abstract:

This paper presents a new approach for studying sequences across combinations of binary and ordinal variables. The approach involves three novel methodologies (frequency analysis, graphical mapping of changes between “events”, and dependency analysis), as well as an established adaptation based on Bayesian dynamical systems. The frequency analysis and graphical approach work by counting and mapping changes in two variables and then determining which variable, if any, more often has a higher value than the other during transitions. The general reasoning is that when transitioning from low values to high, if one variable commonly assumes higher values before the other, this variable is interpreted to be generally preceding the other while moving upwards. A similar reasoning is applied for decreasing variable values. These approaches assume that the two variables are correlated and change along a comparable scale. The dependency analysis investigates what values of one variable are prerequisites for values in another. We also include an established Bayesian approach that models changes from one event combination to another. We illustrate the proposed methodological bundle by analyzing changes driving electoral democracy using the new V-Dem dataset (Coppedge et al. 2015a, b). Our results indicate that changes in electoral democracy are preceded by changes in freedom of expression and access to alternative sources of information. 

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Measuring the Potential of Direct Democracy Around the World (1900-2014) 

Authors: David Altman

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 17. December 2015

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Forthcoming publication in journal "Social Indicators Research"!

Abstract:

To what extent is direct democracy achieved in current polities? To answer this question, I develop an index, Direct Democracy Practice Potential (DDPP), which is applied to 200 polities worldwide. This index results from the aggregation of the scores of four types of mechanisms of direct democracy: popular initiatives, popular referendums, obligatory referendums, and authorities’ plebiscites. This index measures: (1) how easy it is to initiate and approve each type of popular vote and (2) how consequential that vote is (if approved). Ease of initiation is measured by: (a) the existence of a direct democracy process, (b) the number of signatures needed, and (c) time limits to collect signatures. Ease of approval is measured by quorums pertaining to: (a) participation, (b) approval, (c) supermajority, and (d) district majority. Consequences are measured by: (a) the legal status of the decision made by citizens (binding or consultative), and (b) the frequency with which direct popular votes have been used and approved in the past. 

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Economic Development and Democracy: An Electoral Connection 

Authors: Carl Henrik Knutsen, John Gerring, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, Matthew Maguire, Michael Coppedge and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 16(2) Revised. June 2016

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Previous version of this paper is available here:  V-Dem Working Paper 2015_16.pdf (4.5 MB) .

Abstract:

Scholars continue to debate whether economic development affects regime type. We argue that a clear relationship exists between development and the electoral component of democracy, but not – or only very weakly – between development and other components of (the diffuse) democracy concept. This is so because development enhances the power resources of citizens and elections provide a focal point for collective action. The theory is tested with two new datasets – Varieties of Democracy and Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy – that allow us to disaggregate the concept of democracy into meso- and micro-level indicators. Results of these tests corroborate the theory: only election-centered indices are robustly associated with economic development. This may help to account for apparent inconsistencies across extant studies and shed light on the mechanisms at work in a much-studied relationship. Further analysis shows that development affects electoral democracy, in particular, through reducing electoral fraud, election violence and vote buying. 

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Measuring Political Participation in Southern Europe: The Varieties of Democracy Approach 

Authors: Tiago Fernandes, João Cancela, Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg and Allen Hicken

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 15. November 2015

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Abstract:

Most schools of democratic theory consider political participation to have a positive impact in deepening democracy. Political participation makes democracies more accountable and freer, as well as creating more engaged, civic minded and public spirited citizens. It has been observed that in regimes where citizens lack capacity for self-organization and political engagement this contributes to a lower quality of their democratic regimes and institutions. Moreover, this connection is even more vital in democratizing settings and new democracies, like the Southern European countries of Portugal, Spain, and Greece. Research has shown that in democracies that emerged after a long experience of authoritarianism there will be a lower capacity for mobilization of citizens. Scientific research has already identified variations in levels of political participation between countries. In this paper authors analyse the strengths and limitations of existing indices where political participation is taken as a significant dimension. Secondly, drawing from the Varieties of Democracy project, they propose a new conceptualization of political participation. Thirdly, authors compare the accuracy and rigour of the new V-Dem Indices with other long-established indices (Freedom House, Polity, Vanhanen’s Democratization Index), by using five Southern European countries (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) as test cases. 

 

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O Brasil na perspectiva do Projeto Variedades da Democracia (in Portuguese) 

Authors: Fernando Bizzarro Neto and Michael Coppedge

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 14. November 2015

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A modified version of this working paper was published as:

Fernando Bizzarro and Michael Coppedge, "Variedades da Democracia no Brasil," Opinião Pública, vol. 23, no. 1 (April 2017): 1-42.

http://www.cesop.unicamp.br/site/htm/revistas_artigos.php?rev=73

Abstract:

In this article we present results for Brazil collected by the Varieties of Democracy project. We describe the historical evolution of democracy in Brazil from 1900 to 2012, focusing on its five main components (electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian), and on two adjacent dimensions of the regime (corruption and political parties). Lastly, we compare the data for Brazil with similar results for other South American countries. The results suggest: a. that a “spiral” trajectory has characterized Brazilian political regimes, in which new democratic experiences are always more democratic in all dimensions than previous ones; b. that the contemporary democratic experience combines positive results obtained in the electoral, liberal, and deliberative components of democracy, with less positive results observed in the egalitarian, and participatory components of democracy, as well as in its adjacent dimensions. 

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The Varieties of Democracy Core Civil Society Index

Authors: Michael Bernhard, Eitan Tzelgov, Dong-Joon Jung, Michael Coppedge and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 13. Edited. December 2015

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A modified version of this working paper is published as:

Bernhard, M., Jung, D., Tzelgov, E., Coppedge, M., & Lindberg, S. (2017). Making Embedded Knowledge Transparent: How the V-Dem Dataset Opens New Vistas in Civil Society Research. Perspectives on Politics, 15(2), 342-360. 

Abstract:

This paper introduces the Core Civil Society Index (CCSI), a measure of the robustness of civil society, using indicators from the Varieties of Democracy battery on civil society. It begins with a discussion of the reemergence of civil society as a central concept in comparative politics and discusses the existing state of data to capture it. It then discusses the conceptualization behind the CCSI and the construction of the measure. This is followed by a series of face and discriminant validity checks. The paper closes with an example of the CCSI’s utility by examining the question of whether postcommunist civil society is “weak” compared to other regions. We find no evidence that postcommunist civil society is less robust than civil society in other major world regions via time-series cross-sectional analysis using 2999 country-year observations between 1989 and 2012. 

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No Democratic Transition Without Women’s Rights: A Global Sequence Analysis 1900-2012

Authors: Yi-ting Wang, Patrik Lindenfors, Aksel Sundström, Fredrik Jansson and Staffan I. Lindberg 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 12. September 2015

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A modified version of this paper:

Wang, Yi-ting, Patrik Lindenfors, Aksel Sundström, Fredrik Jansson, Pam Paxton and Staffan I. Lindberg (Published online 17 March 2017).  “Women’s Rights in Democratic Transitions: A Global Sequence Analysis 1900–2012”. European Journal of Political Research.

Abstract:

What determines countries’ successful transition to democracy? Research has focused on socioeconomic and institutional factors, yet the assumption that political liberalization has to precede democratization has not been systematically examined. We explore the impacts of granting civil rights in authoritarian regimes and especially the gendered aspect of this process. We argue that both men’s and women’s liberal rights are essential conditions for democratization to take place: giving both men and women rights reduce an inequality that affects half of the population, thus increasing the costs of repression for authoritarian rulers, and enabling the formation of women’s movements – historically important as a spark of protests in initial phases of democratization. We test this argument empirically using data that cover 160 countries over the years 1900–2012 and contain more nuanced measures than commonly used. Through sequence analysis we obtain results suggesting that liberal rights for both men and women enhance civil society organizations, and then lead to electoral democracy. The results suggest that influential modernization writings – stressing the role of economic development in democratization processes – may partly have been misinformed in their blindness for gender. The reported pattern may be at least part of the explanation of the ‘Arab spring’ failures. 

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Does Democracy or Good Governance Enhance Health? New Empirical Evidence 1900-2012

Authors: Yi-ting Wang, Valeriya Mechkova and Frida Andersson 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 11. September 2015

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Abstract:

It has been long debated whether regime types have impacts on human development. More specifically, compared to authoritarianism, are democracies more likely to provide public goods, including infrastructure that improve food provision and health care, and thus enhance health? Some studies support an optimistic view, and argue that with the accountability mechanisms of democratic elections, democracy is helpful in improving health. Some recent studies challenge the optimistic argument, and point out good governance, rather than regime types, as a more crucial determinant of human development. Using a newly collected dataset that covers 173 countries over the years 1900-2012 and contains more nuanced measures than commonly used, we intend to disentangle the debate. The results suggest that across models with various specifications, regime types have more consistent effects than quality of government on health outcomes throughout the entire period. Furthermore, we find that the mixed results of extant studies are due to that 1) the commonly used governance indicators are measured only for the recent decades, and the sample does not reflect the entire range of variation; 2) the positive effects of democracy are especially salient once the level of democracy has achieved certain threshold; 3) the positive effects of democracy are especially stable when both vertical and horizontal accountability mechanisms are improved. 

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Party Strength and Economic Growth

Authors: Michael Bernhard, Fernando Bizzarro, Michael Coppedge, John Gerring, Allen Hicken, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Staffan I. Lindberg and Svend-Erik Skaaning

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 10 Edited. September 2015

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Abstract:

While a large literature suggests an important role for political parties in economic development, this is the first attempt to lay out a comprehensive theory and a reasonably comprehensive empirical test of the proposition. We argue that strong parties broaden the constituencies to which policy makers respond and help politicians solve coordination problems. These features help ensure better economic management, public services, and political stability. And this, in turn, enhances economic growth. Drawing on a novel measure of party strength from the Varieties of Democracy dataset, we test this theory on data drawn from more than 150 countries, observed annually from 1900– 2012. We identify a sizeable effect which is robust to various specifications, estimators, and samples. The effect operates in both democracies and autocracies and is fairly stable across regions and time periods. We also find provisional evidence in favor of causal mechanisms pertaining to public services and political stability. 

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Electoral Democracy and Human Development

Authors: John Gerring, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg and Matthew Maguire

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 9. Edited. February 2016

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Abstract:

This study reconciles competing positions in the debate over whether democracy improves human development. We argue that electoral competition incentivizes politicians to provide public goods and services, and these, in turn, save lives. Hence, the electoral aspect of democracy should have a substantial impact on human development while other aspects, e.g. related to citizen empowerment or civil liberties, should be less consequential. Extant measures of democracy do not allow for the disambiguation of various components of democracy, which may help to account for the mixed results reported by various studies (contrast Ross 2006 and Gerring et al. 2012). We draw on the new Varieties of Democracy dataset, which provides a highly differentiated set of democracy indicators, and a new collection of mortality data compiled by the Gapminder project. With these tools, we are able to conduct panel analyses that include most (semi- ) sovereign countries from 1900 to the present – a much more extensive sample than has ever been mustered for this particular research question. We find that composite indices such as Polity have a tenuous relationship to human development, while indices focused on the electoral component of democracy yield a highly robust relationship. 

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When and Where do Elections Matter? A Global Test of the Democratization by Elections Hypothesis, 1900-2012

Authors: Amanda Edgell, Valeriya Mechkova, David Altman, Michael Bernhard and Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 8. August 2015

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Abstract:

To date studies assessing the democratizing effects of elections have produced mixed results. While findings suggest that successive uninterrupted election cycles in a global sample (Teorell and Hadenius 2009) and within sub-Saharan Africa (Lindberg 2006, 2009) have a robust positive impact on democratization, tests in other regions have been less encouraging. In particular, negative empirical findings in Latin America (McCoy and Hartlyn 2009) and Postcommunist Europe (Kaya and Bernhard 2013) call into question whether the democratizing effect of elections is isolated to the sub-Saharan region. In addition, the hypothesis has been subject to conceptual criticism (Lust-Okar 2009). This paper poses a comprehensive and global set of tests on the democratizing effect of elections, assessing the scope of the argument both geographically and temporally. We test whether elections have a democratizing effect in specific regions, in specific time periods, and globally. In particular we assess whether the effects are largely confined to Africa, during the third wave, or if this is a more general phenomenon. We find consistent support that the reiteration of contested multiparty elections leads to the improvement of rule of law and the quality of civil rights protections. 

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Legislative Powers and Executive Corruption

Authors: M. Steve Fish, Katherine E. Michel and Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 7. June 2015

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Abstract:

This paper utilizes new measures of corruption available from the V-Dem project to assess executive corruption cross-nationally over the period 2000 to 2010. Authors focus on two types of executive corruption - bribery and embezzlement. A legislature with the ability to investigate the executive in practice, control its own finances, or pass legislation in practice is able to impose more constraints on the executive than does a legislature without these powers, and these powers help deter the executive from committing corrupt acts. 

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Measuring High Level Democratic Principles using the V-Dem Data

Authors: Michael Coppedge, Staffan I. Lindberg, Svend-Erik Skaaning and Jan Teorell.

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 6. May 2015

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A modified version of this working paper was published as:

Coppedge, Michael, Staffan I. Lindberg, Svend-Erik Skaaning, and Jan Teorell. n.d. 2016. “Measuring High Level Democratic Principles Using the V-Dem Data”, International Political Science Review 37(2)

Abstract:

While the definition of extended conceptions of democracy has been widely discussed, the measurement of these constructs has not attracted similar attention. In this paper we present new measures of polyarchy, liberal democracy, deliberative democracy, egalitarian democracy, and participatory democracy that cover most polities in the period 1900 to 2013. These indices are based on data from a large number of indicators collected through the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project. A discussion of the theoretical considerations and the concrete formula linked to our aggregation of indicators and components into high level measures is followed by an illustration of how these measures reflect variations in quality of democracy, given the respective ideals, in 2012. In the conclusion we urge scholars to make use of the rich dataset made available by V-Dem. 

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The Structure of the Executive in Authoritarian and Democratic Regimes: Regime Dimensions across the Globe, 1900-2014

Authors: Jan Teorell and Staffan I. Lindberg.

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 5. April 2015

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Abstract:

This paper attempts to integrate the literatures on authoritarian regime types and democratic forms of government. Based on different modes of executive appointment and dismissal, we propose a parsimonious theory of five regime dimensions that cut across the democracy/autocracy divide: the hereditary principle; the military principle; the ruling party principle; the presidential and the parliamentary principles, respectively. Relying on the Varieties of Democracy data, we provide alternative measures of these five regime dimensions for 173 countries across the globe from 1900 to today. A plausibility probe gauges the extent to which the five dimensions can predict the level of repression, rent-seeking and spending on public goods across space and time, controlling for the degree of democracy. We conclude by suggesting several avenues for future research that can be pursued with these data. 

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Institutional Subsystems and the Survival of Democracy: Do Political and Civil Society Matter?

Authors: Michael Bernhard, Allen Hicken, Christopher Reenock and Staffan I. Lindberg.

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 4. April 2015

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Abstract:

How do two central institutional subsystems of democracy – party systems and civil society – affect the persistence of democratic regimes? Despite the ability of each of these institutions to provide sources of countervailing power that make politicians accountable and thus responsive, distributionist accounts of democratic breakdown provide few insights on how such institutions may encourage parties to reach accommodation. We argue that these institutions provide credible threats against anti-system activities that would otherwise threaten the democratic compromise. We test our argument with newly available data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project by analyzing all episodes of democratic breakdown from 1900-2001. Using a split population event history estimator, we find evidence that these institutions not only forestall the timing of breakdowns among transitional democracies but also that a strong party system is critical to setting democratic regimes on the path of consolidation. 

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Vote Buying Is A Good Sign: Alternate Tactics of Fraud in Africa 1986-2012

Authors: Carolien van Ham and Staffan I. Lindberg.

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 3. April 2015

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A modified version of this working paper was published as: 

van Ham, Carolien and Staffan I. Lindberg. 2015. “From Sticks to Carrots: Electoral Manipulation in Africa, 1986–2012”, Government and Opposition 50(2): 521-548 

Abstract:

Over 90 percent of the world’s states currently select their national leaders through multi-party elections. However, in Africa the quality of elections still varies widely, ranging from elections plagued by violence and fraud to elections that are relatively “free and fair”. The literature on election fraud and integrity has identified several factors explaining cross-national variation in overall levels of election integrity. Much less is known about trade offs between different strategies of electoral manipulation and the differences between incumbent and opposition actors’ strategies. Existing research suggest that incumbents engage more in vote buying while opposition engage more in election violence. We theorize that choices for specific types of manipulation are driven by available resources and cost considerations for both incumbents and opposition actors, and are mutually responsive. We also suggest that costs of manipulative strategies are shaped by the level of democratization. We test our hypotheses on time-series- cross-section data for 285 African elections from 1986 to 2012. We find that democratization initially leads to increases in vote buying as “cheap” forms of electoral manipulation available to incumbents such as intimidation and manipulating electoral administration become less viable. 

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Varieties of Democratic Diffusion: Colonial Networks

Authors: Michael Coppedge, Benjamin Denison, Lucia Tiscornia and Staffan I. Lindberg.

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 2(2) Revised. June 2016

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Previous version of this paper is available here:  V-Dem Working Paper 2015_2.pdf (2.4 MB)

Abstract:

Numerous studies have reported that countries tend to become more similar to their immediate geographic neighbors with respect to democracy. We show that a similar process of mutual adjustment can be found within very different international networks: geographically dispersed colonial empires, especially those that were founded early and lasted a century or more. The causal mechanisms for the diffusion of democracy are notoriously vague, but the existence of diffusion within colonial networks helps narrow the possibilities. Where these relationships are significant, the net tendency is overwhelmingly convergence: colonies have tended to democratize more quickly than similar countries that were never colonies, and some colonizers have tended to democratize more slowly than similar countries that never had colonies. We distinguish between effects that took place during colonial rule and later relations between former colonies and their colonizers. These estimates also confirm, and control for, convergence among immediate neighbors, using an electoral democracy index from the Varieties of Democracy project, which includes historical democracy ratings for colonies. 

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Evaluating and Improving Item Response Theory Models for Cross-National Expert Surveys

Authors: Daniel Pemstein, Eitan Tzelgov and Yi-ting Wang. 

University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 1. March 2015

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Abstract:

The data produced by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project contains ordinal ratings of a multitude of country-level indicators across space and time, with multiple experts providing judgments for each country-year observation. We use an ordinal item response theory (O-IRT) model to aggregate multiple experts' ratings. The V-Dem data provide a challenging domain for such models because they exhibit little cross-national bridging. That is, few coders provide ratings for multiple countries, making it difficult to calibrate the scales of estimates cross-nationally. In this paper, we provide a systematic analysis of the issue of bridging. We first use simulations to explore how much bridging one needs to achieve scale identification when coders' thresholds vary across countries and when the latent traits of some countries lack variation. We then examine how posterior predictive checks can be used to check cases of extent of scale non-comparability. Finally, we develop and evaluate search algorithms designed to select bridges that are most likely allow one to correct scale incompatibility problems.