Testing for a Political Bias in Freedom House Democracy Scores: Are U.S. Friendly States Judged to Be More Democratic?
51 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2011 Last revised: 30 Jan 2014
Date Written: August 13, 2012
Several scholars have criticized the Freedom House democracy ratings as being politically biased; do countries indeed incorrectly receive better ratings that have stronger political ties with the United States? Starting from the assumption that other indices of democracy can be used as benchmark data, different estimation strategies are employed to gauge whether differences between a number of alternative indices of democracy and the FH ratings can be explained in a systematic manner by variables that record relationships between the U.S. and the countries under investigation. Differentiating between the period before 1989 and after 1988, I obtain consistent evidence of a substantial bias in the FH ratings for the former period. For the latter period, the estimates are a little less consistent and hint to a smaller, but still existent political bias in the FH scores.
Note: This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article titled "Comparing Freedom House Democracy Scores to Alternative Indices and Testing for Political Bias: Are US Allies Rated as More Democratic by Freedom House?" forthcoming in the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis (copyright Taylor & Francis). Please consider (and cite if applicable) the substantially revised and final version of this research in the journal article (once available)! The journal is available online at the Taylor and Francis website.
Keywords: Freedom House, Democracy, Democracy Index, Measuring Democracy, Political Bias
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