Polity data series

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Number of nations 1800–2003 scoring 8 or higher on the Polity IV scale, a measure of democracy.
World map showing findings from the Polity IV data series report for 2013.

The Polity data series is a widely used data series in political science research.[1] The latest version, Polity IV, contains coded annual information on the level of democracy for all independent states with greater than 500,000 total population and covers the years 1800–2013. Polity's conclusions about a state's level of democracy are based on an evaluation of that state's elections for competitiveness and openness, the nature of political participation in general, and the extent of checks on executive authority. For each year and country, a "Polity Score" is determined which ranges from -10 to +10, with -10 to -6 corresponding to autocracies, -5 to 5 corresponding to anocracies, and 6 to 10 to democracies.

Polity Score ranges from -10 to +10
minimum value maximum value
autocracies -10 -6
anocracies -5 5
democracies 6 10

The Polity study was initiated in the late 1960s by Ted Robert Gurr; it is now continued by Gurr's former student, Monty G. Marshall, and sponsored by the Political Instability Task Force.

The 2002 paper "Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy" claimed several problems with commonly used democracy rankings, including Polity, opining that the criteria used to determine "democracy" were misleadingly narrow.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Casper, Gretchen, and Claudiu Tufis. 2003. “Correlation Versus Interchangeability: the Limited Robustness of Empirical Finding on Democracy Using Highly Correlated Data Sets.” Political Analysis 11: 196-203.
  2. ^ Gerardo L. Munck, Jay Verkuilen (February 2002), "Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices" (PDF), Comparative Political Studies (Sage Publications) 35 (1): 5–34 

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