Most comprehensive dataset on democracy online!

May 10, 2017

Today is a momentous day for anyone interested in democracy. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project is releasing a new and even larger version of their democracy dataset, now covering 17 million data points on democracy and 177 countries in the world up to 2016.

The release takes place at Wallenbergsalen, University of Gothenburg, Sweden with some 200 international guests attending and a number of prominent speakers, among others Annika Söder (State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Sweden) and Dr. Richard Youngs (Carnegie Endowment for Democracy). Live streaming of the event is found at​

V-Dem’s data is becoming the leading source of information on democracy used by scholars, as well as organizations, such as the World Bank, Transparency International, UNDP, European Commission, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Resource Governance Institute, International IDEA, as well as numerous NGOs around the world.

The dataset contains over 350 unique and disaggregated democracy indicators, more than 40 mid-level indices, and 5 high-level indices (electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative and egalitarian democracy) from 1900 to 2016.
V-Dem is a collaboration between University of Gothenburg and Notre Dame University. Yet, V-Dem would not exist without its almost 3,000 Country Experts, Country Coordinators and Regional Managers from all around the world. They play a crucial role in the data collection and V-Dem project, which distinguishes it from other data sources.
Democracy at Dusk?
Is the world facing a democratic recession? Yes, V-Dem’s Annual Report 2017 shows that the average level of democracy in the world has regressed back to, roughly speaking, where it was some 10 to 15 years ago. At the same time, the decline is moderate and there is still much more democracy in the world today than before the end of the Cold War. Thailand leads the backsliders with a drastic decline pursuant to the coup in 2014. Turkey is also among democratic regressions in the last five years with its dramatic descent in 2016, reflecting president Erdoğan’s latest actions turning the country to a dictatorship.
On a positive note, among the countries with the greatest democratic progress, we find Tunisia in the lead as the main success story of the Arab Spring. Democracy has also made substantial gains in Burkina Faso, Georgia and Sri Lanka after reforms in recent years; these countries are now ranked above the world average.
France, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, and Denmark are the top-5 countries with highest scores on the Liberal Democracy Index. According to the same Index, the worst dictatorships in the world are North Korea, Eritrea, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, Burundi, Azerbaijan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. The report is available at download Annual Report here
Director of V-Dem institute, Professor Staffan I. Lindberg said: “It is a milestone for V-Dem to produce this new dataset and our first Annual Report. We are very proud of everyone on the global V-Dem team who has contributed to make this happen”.
Overview of V-Dem Dataset V7:

  • Dataset is free and available for download in the following formats: SPSS, STATA, STATA-IC, CSV and EXCEL via:
  • Dataset is available as Country-Year: V-Dem; Country-Year: V-Dem + other; Country-Date: V-Dem.
  • 177 Countries covered
  • New indices and indicators added in this version:

Obligatory referendum index, Popular initiative index, Popular referendum index, Plebiscite index, Citizen-initiated component of direct popular vote index, Top-down component of direct popular vote index, High court size de jure, High court size in practice, Female judges, First woman appointed, Lower chamber electoral system- 13 categories index.
Information about V-Dem
The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is a worldwide collaboration of almost 3,000 scholars and experts, measuring democracy from a new, multidimensional, point of view. V-Dem is headquartered at the V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg and co-hosted by the Kellogg institute at the University of Notre Dame, USA. V-Dem dataset is the largest of its kind and the most comprehensive database on democracy, enabling a vast research agenda and nuanced descriptive analyses that are comparable across time and space.
V-Dem Institute:, +46 31 7863043

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