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  • Author: Kyle L Marquardt
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Many datasets use experts to code latent quantities of interest. However, scholars have not explored either the factors affecting expert reliability or the degree to which these factors influence estimates of latent concepts. Here we systematically analyze potential correlates of expert reliability using six randomly selected variables from a cross-national panel dataset, V-Dem v8. The V-Dem project includes a diverse group of over 3,000 experts and uses an IRT model to incorporate variation in both expert reliability and scale perception into its data aggregation process. In the process, the IRT model produces an estimate of expert reliability, which affects the relative contribution of an expert to the model. We examine a variety of factors that could correlate with reliability, and find little evidence of theoretically-untenable bias due to expert characteristics. On the other hand, there is evidence that attentive and condent experts who have a basic contextual knowledge of the concept of democracy are more reliable.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Matthew Blackwell, Adam Glynn
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Repeated measurements of the same countries, people, or groups over time are vital to many fields of political science. These measurements, sometimes called time-series cross-sectional (TSCS) data, allow researchers to estimate a broad set of causal quantities, including contemporaneous and lagged treatment effects. Unfortunately, popular methods for TSCS data can only produce valid inferences for lagged effects under very strong assumptions. In this paper, we use potential outcomes to define causal quantities of interest in this settings and clarify how standard models like the autoregressive distributed lag model can produce biased estimates of these quantities due to post-treatment conditioning. We then describe two estimation strategies that avoid these post-treatment biases—inverse probability weighting and structural nested mean models—and show via simulations that they can outperform standard approaches in small sample settings. We illustrate these methods in a study of how welfare spending affects terrorism.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Robinson, Marcus Tannenberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: The study of popular support for authoritarian regimes, and the comparative study of political attitudes, has long relied on the assumption that survey respondents provide truthful answers on surveys. However, when measuring regime support in closed political systems there is a distinct risk that individuals are less than forthright due to fear that their opinions may be made known to the public or the authorities. In order to test this assumption, we conducted a novel web-based survey in China in which we included four list experiments of commonly used items in the comparative literature on regime support. We find systematic bias for all four measures as a result of selfcensorship; substantially more individuals state that they support the regime with direct questioning than do when presented with our anonymous, indirect list experiments. The level of self-censorship, which ranges from 16 to 22 percentage points, is considerably higher than previously thought. Selfcensorship is further most prevalent among the wealthy, urban, female and younger respondents. These findings indicate that prior studies that have found high levels of support for the Chinese regime using these particular measures likely overestimate the true level of support. Further, crossnational studies which compare popular support across regime type may be systematically biased if responses are not subject to the same level of falsification across regime types.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: The Historical Varieties of Democracy Dataset (Historical V-Dem) is a new dataset containing 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 are also included in the Varieties of Democracy dataset, which covers the period from 1900 to the present – and together these two datasets cover the bulk of “modern history”. Historical V-Dem also includes several new indicators, covering features that are pertinent for 19thcentury polities. We describe the data, the process of coding, and the different strategies employed in Historical V-Dem to cope with issues of reliability and validity and ensure inter-temporal- and cross-country comparability. To illustrate the potential uses of the dataset we provide a descriptive account of patterns of democratization in the “long 19th century.” Finally, we perform an empirical investigation of how inter-state war relates to subsequent democratization.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Håvard Hegre, Michael Bernhard, Jan Teorell
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: The democratic peace is one of the most robust findings in international relations. Yet it suffers from two important limitations. First, even those who fully embrace the democratic peace have difficulty precisely identifying which facet of democracy drives the result. Second, the vast majority of studies have relied on a single measure of democracy – the Polity index. This paper reassesses interstate conflict on several new measures of democracy and their disaggregated components from the Varieties of Democracy project in a global sample of 173 countries from 1900–2010 (www.v-dem.net). We theorize three distinct mechanisms of constraint that may explain why some countries do not engage in military conflict with each other: formal vertical (e.g. elections), informal vertical (e.g. civil society activism), and horizontal accountability (e.g. interbranch constraint on the executive). We find that the formal vertical channels of accountability provided by elections are not as crucial as horizontal constraint and the informal vertical accountability provided by a strong civil society.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Armand M Leroi et al
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Sometimes the normal course of events is disrupted by a particularly swift and profound change. Historians have often referred to such changes as "revolutions" and, though they have identied many of them, they have rarely supported their claims with statistical evidence. Here we present a method to identify revolutions based on a measure of the multivariate rate of change called Foote Novelty. We dene revolutions as those periods of time when the value of this measure, F, can, by a non-parametric test, be shown to be signicantly greater than the background rate. Our method also identies conservative periods when the rate of change is unusually low. Importantly, our method permits searching for revolutions over any time scale that the data permit. We apply it to several quantitative data sets that capture long-term political, social and cultural changes and, in some of them, identify revolutions, both well known and not. Our method is a general one that can be applied to any phenomenon captured by multivariate time series data of sufficient quality.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Valeriya Mechkova, Anna Lührmann, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Accountability is one of the cornerstones of good governance. Establishing accountable governments is a top priority on the international development agenda. Yet, scholars and democracy practitioners know little about how accountability mechanisms develop and thus can be supported by international and national actors. The present study tackles the questions of how, and in what sequence accountability sub-types develop. We consider not only vertical (elections and political parties) and horizontal accountability (legislature, judiciary and other oversight bodies), but also diagonal accountability (civil society and media) in both their de-jure and the de-facto dimensions. By utilizing novel sequencing methods, we study their sequential relationships in 173 countries from 1900 to the present with data from the new V-Dem dataset. Considering the long-term dimensions of institution building, this study indicates that most aspects of de-facto vertical accountability precede other forms of accountability. Effective institutions of horizontal accountability – such as vigorous parliaments and independent high courts – evolve rather late in the sequence and build on progress in many other areas.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Coppedge
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: The political world lately seems to be filled with unexpected erosions of democracy. What is the most useful way to describe these phenomena? Do they all belong to a common syndrome? Certainly there are different degrees of erosion, but are there also different types? How common are such erosions in the world today? Is this a new phenomenon, or are there close parallels with events in the past? If we detect early warning signs of erosion, how concerned should we be that it will continue and culminate in the breakdown of democracy? This paper argues that there are two distinct erosion paths. First, there is a classic path of growing repression of speech, media, assembly, and civil liberties, combined with deteriorating political discourse. The second path involves the concentration of power in the executive at the expense of the courts and the legislature, similar to what Guillermo O’Donnell called “delegative democracy,” which entails the erosion of horizontal accountability. Venezuela emerges as the most extreme and most fully articulated instance of erosion along this second path
  • Topic: International Affairs, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nancy et al Arrington
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: ncreasing the diversity of political institutions is believed to improve the quality of political discourse and, subsequently, the quality of political outcomes. Moreover, the presence of diverse officials in positions of power signals the openness and fairness of political institutions. These benets of diversity should be particularly acute in the judiciary, where judges are tasked with the symbolically and substantively powerful duty of interpreting and defending constitutional values. Extant scholarship suggests that well-designed appointment process can promote diversity without explicitly gendered goals, much less quotas. If correct, these proposals raise the possibility of promoting greater diversity without having to resolve politically charged debates about quotas. Yet, scholars disagree about the effects of particular design choices. Worse, estimating causal effects of institutions in observational data is particularly difficult. We develop a research design linked to the empirical implications of existing theoretical arguments to evaluate the effect of institutional change on the gender diversity of peak courts cross-nationally. Speciffically, we consider the effect of an increase (or a decrease) in the number of actors involved in the appointment process. We find mixed results for any existing claim about the role of appointment institutions play in increasing diversity. Yet we also find that any institutional change seems to cause an increase in the gender diversity of peak courts.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hans Lueders, Ellen Lust
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This comprehensive analysis of regime change indicators reveals that problems of conceptualization and measurement are major reasons why current research fails to draw compelling conclusions that foster cumulative knowledge. The paper first argues that even though the literature discusses the conceptualization of regime types at length, there is little attention to defining regime change. Furthermore, quantitative studies of regime change largely elide conceptual and measurement challenges. Second, although indicators of regime type are highly correlated, agreement between indicators of regime change is extremely low. Third, focal points such as elections and coups drive agreement among these indicators, suggesting that such measures often reflect notable events instead of regime change per se. Finally, a robustness check of nine articles on regime change published in top journals demonstrates that findings are often not robust to alternative indicators, implying that indicator choice influences the results of quantitative studies.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Carolien van Ham, Brigitte Seim
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stephen Lloyd Wilson
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marcus Tannenberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fernando Bizzarro, Allen Hicken, Dari Self
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Staffan I. Lindberg, Marcus Tannenberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Kyle L Marquardt, Valeriya Mechkova
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Coppedge
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Haakon Gjerlow, Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kelly McMann
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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 be
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, David Altman
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • 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.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus