Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy

The Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy (LIED) incorporates binary coding of different features of political regimes, which are aggregated together using the cumulative logic of a lexical scale. This means that the index simultaneously performs a classificatory function, where each level identifies a unique regime type, as well as a discriminating function. The dataset, which covers all independent countries in the period 1800 to 2013, is presented in Skaaning, Svend-Erik, John Gerring & Henrikas Bartusevičius (2015). "A Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy." Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 48, No. 12, pp. 1491-1525 (and previously in Working Paper 399 published by the Kellogg Institute of International Affairs). For a short description, see here. The dataset used in the paper published in Comparative Political Studies (version 1.1) can be found on dataverse ( and here. An updated version (v3) with some revised scores and updated for 2015 is available here. An expanded index (LIED+) with an extra indicator (media freedom), used to create an additional level of the index, will soon be released on this webpage.

Tentative Codebook for Historical Coding of Political Regimes

With a group of distinguished scholars (Jan Teorell, Daniel Ziblatt, and Carl Henrik Knutsen), Cornell, Gerring, and Skaaning plan to collect disaggregated data on various aspects of democracy and governance that will allow us to track an array of specific institutional characteristics from 1800 forward in countries across the world, with an initial focus on Europe and the Americas. Preliminary codebook

Civil Liberty Dataset (CLD)

The CLD (dataset in excel-format) includes indicators on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion, and freedom of movement and residence for 207 countries in the period 1976-2010. In the creation of the CLD, only the actual practices of states and their agents have been taken into account in the assignment of scores. The source for the coding is the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Each of the four indicators has been coded based on a four-point scale (see codebook). The points denote situations where the respective civil liberties are severely restricted (1), fairly restricted (2), modestly restricted (3), and not restricted (4). The four points are anchored in an overall distinction between respective ideal typical characteristics of liberal, semi-liberal, illiberal, and anti-liberal regimes, with the two intermediate categories inserted symmetrically between the endpoints. For a detailed description of the dataset, and how it compares to extant alternatives, see Respect for Civil Liberties During the Third Wave of Democratization: Presenting a New Dataset.


Regime Types during the Third Wave

The dataset on third wave political regimes (dataset in excel-format) distinguishes between liberal democracies, polyarchies, electoral democracies, minimalist democracies, multi-party autocracies, and closed autocracies. The source for the coding is the Freedom House (FH) annual lists of electoral democracies, which we use to distinguish democracies from autocracies. This list goes back only to 1989, however, so for the years 1972–88, we use the dataset on democracies presented in Carles Boix, Sebastian Rosato, and Michael Miller, “A Complete Dataset of Political Regimes, 1800–2007,” Comparative Political Studies (forthcoming). Both measures capture the defining components of what we term minimalist democracy. Regarding the democracies, we consider those scoring worse than 2 on FH’s political rights index to be minimalist democracies. Among the democracies earning political rights scores of 2 or better, we use the score on the FH civil-liberties index to make further distinctions: Those earning civil liberties scores worse than 2 are considered electoral democracies; those scoring 2 are considered polyarchies; and those scoring 1 are considered liberal democracies. To distinguish between the two kinds of autocracies, we use the lpartyindicator from the “Democracy-Dictatorship” dataset provided by José A. Cheibub, Jennifer Gandhi, and James Vreeland in “Democracy and Dictatorship Revisited,” Public Choice 143 (April 2010): 67–101. Countries with multiple parties in the national legislature (scoring 2) are considered multiparty autocracies, while those with only the ruling party represented in the legislature (scoring 1) or no legislature at all (scoring 0) are considered closed autocracies. For the years 2009–12 and a few additional missing values, we have updated this indicator ourselves. This measurement procedure is imperfect; for the time being, however, a lack of appropriate, disaggregated indicators places serious limits on achieving alignment between concepts and measures.

For a use of the dataset to the distribution of political regime types during the third wave of democratization in different regions, see The Third Wave: Inside the Numbers.