Introducing the Historical Varieties of Democracy dataset: Political institutions in the long 19th century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Historical Varieties of Democracy dataset (Historical V-Dem) contains about 260 indicators, both factual and evaluative, describing various aspects of political regimes and state institutions. The dataset covers 91 polities globally – including most large, sovereign states, as well as some semi-sovereign entities and large colonies – from 1789 to 1920 for many cases. The majority of the indicators come from the Varieties of Democracy dataset, which covers 1900 to the present – together these two datasets cover the bulk of ‘modern history’. Historical V-Dem also includes several new indicators, covering features that are pertinent for 19th-century polities. We describe the data, coding process, and different strategies employed in Historical V-Dem to cope with issues of reliability and validity and ensure intertemporal and cross-country comparability. To illustrate the potential uses of the dataset we describe patterns of democratization in the ‘long 19th century’. Finally, we investigate how interstate war relates to subsequent democratization.


  • Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Jan Teorell
  • Tore Wig
  • Agnes Cornell
  • John Gerring
  • Haakon Gjerløw
  • Svend Erik Skaaning
  • Daniel Ziblatt
  • Kyle L. Marquardt
  • Daniel Pemstein
  • Brigitte Seim
External organisations
  • University of Oslo
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Aarhus University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Gothenburg
  • University of North Carolina
  • North Dakota State University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • democracy, democratization, political institutions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-451
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch