Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy. Evaluating Alternative Indices
Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 35 No. 1, February 2002 5-34 (2002)
30 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2002
A comprehensive and integrated framework for the analysis of data is offered and used to assess data sets on democracy. The framework first distinguishes among three challenges that are sequentially addressed: conceptualization, measurement, and aggregation. In turn, it specifies distinct tasks associated with these challenges and the standards of assessment that pertain to each task. This framework is applied to the data sets on democracy most frequently used in current statistical research, generating a systematic evaluation of these data sets. The authors’ conclusion is that constructors of democracy indices tend to be quite self-conscious about methodological issues but that even the best indices suffer from important weaknesses. More constructively, the article’s assessment of existing data sets on democracy identifies distinct areas in which attempts to improve the quality of data on democracy might fruitfully be focused.
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