The V-Forecast Project
The V-Forecast project is the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute’s forecasting intuitive. In this the initial year of the V-Forecast project, we provide two-year ahead forecasts of the risk of adverse regime transitions (ARTs) for 169 countries. ARTs are substantial movements of a country’s regime towards more authoritarian governance, whether authoritarian reversals in a democracy, or further autocratization in an already nondemocratic country. We operationalize ARTs as a year-to-year decrease in the Regimes of the World index.
To produce our two-year ahead predictions, we use the output from three machine learning algorithms – logit with elastic-net regularization, random forest, and gradient-boosted forests – in an unweighted ensemble model. These machine learning models have access to a data set of over 400 variables. Despite being rare events, with a roughly four percent baseline chance over any two-year period, in test forecasts the model is able to achieve good accuracy.
By developing these models and by making these risk assessments public and interpretable, this project hopes to provide useful tools for policy-makers and aid agencies. To this end, we have developed an interactive web application that allows users to see risk assessments for all countries. This web application allows users to view the estimated risk of an ART within the two-year window as well as evaluate time trends across select V-Dem indices for a specific country.
Providing accurate estimates of a country’s risk of experiencing an ART is only the first step. The V-Forecast team is in the process of developing a series of estimated risk models for a number of different phenomena associated with autocratization.