Measuring Polyarchy Across the Globe, 1900–2017

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This paper presents a new measure polyarchy for a global sample of 182 countries from 1900 to 2017 based on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) data, deriving from an expert survey of more than 3000 country experts from around the world, with on average 5 experts rating each indicator. By measuring the five components of Elected Officials, Clean Elections, Associational Autonomy, Inclusive Citizenship, and Freedom of Expression and Alternative Sources of Information separately, we anchor this new index directly in Dahl’s (1971) extremely influential theoretical framework. The paper describes how the five polyarchy components were measured and provides the rationale for how to aggregate them to the polyarchy scale. We find that personal characteristics or ideological predilections of the V-Dem country experts do not systematically predict their ratings on our indicators. We also find strong correlations with other existing measures of electoral democracy, but also decisive differences where we believe the evidence supports the polyarchy index having higher face validity.


  • Jan Teorell
  • Michael Coppedge
  • Staffan Lindberg
  • Svend Erik Skaaning
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Göteborgs universitet
  • Aarhus University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)


Sidor (från-till)71-95
Antal sidor25
TidskriftStudies in Comparative International Development
Utgåva nummer1
Tidigt onlinedatum2018 jul 9
StatusPublished - 2019
Peer review utfördJa