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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  

Gerardo L. Munck

University of Southern California

Jay Verkuilen

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Munck, Gerardo L. and Verkuilen, Jay, Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy. Evaluating Alternative Indices (2002). Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 35 No. 1, February 2002 5-34 (2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2480764

Gerardo L. Munck (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Jay Verkuilen

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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