Polyarchy Index of Democracy

A dataset on democracy and participation compiled by Tatu Vanhanen, emeritus professor at the University of Tampere and at the University of Helsinki.

The Polyarchy dataset is compiled by Tatu Vanhanen, emeritus professor at the University of Tampere and at the University of Helsinki, and covers 187 countries over the period 1810 to 2000. The release of Version 1.0 accompanied an article in Journal of Peace Research (37-2, March 2000). The current version of the dataset is Version 2.0. Both the index and the complete dataset are available for download. This feature was new to Version 1.2 of the database, which was issued in 2000, covering the period 1810–1998. Previous versions of the index were calculated by hand. The index file has seven variables:

  • Vanhanen's country number
  • Year
  • Competition
  • Participation
  • Index of Democracy
  • State name abbreviation from the Correlates of War project (COW)
  • COW country number

For most purposes, the index will be sufficient. However, several choices have been made in creating the index, and some users may want to alter them. The source code for creating the index is available on request.

Vanhanen's original manuscript is also available. We have made 187 PDF files, one for each country.

There are also four previous versions of the index, based in part on manual calculations. These are still available, but we would not recommend them for anything but replication of previous works based on these versions. This especially applies to the 1.1 revisions. Version 2.0 is a major update to the format adopted in Version 1.2, in addition to new and updated data for the years 1998-2000. For any new studies using this data we reccomend only using Version 2.0.

For the years 1999 and 2000, we have also included referendums. These referendums have been used to calculate an alternative index, where each referendum add to the value of the participation score. This procedure is documented in the preface to the 1999-2000 update. A index based on this alternative procedure has been prepared for download, but does only cover the years 1999 and 2000.

Tatu Vanhanen constructed the original dataset as a series of fact sheets for every country (1810–1998), and these fact sheets are available for download on this page. To read them, you need Acrobat Reader from Adobe. If the PDF files does not display correctly, you may have to update to the latest version.

The updated data for 1999 and 2000 are listed in a separate document. Please note that this list may also contain additions and corrections for prevous years. To obtain a complete reference for any individual country please refer both to the country spesific file and the update. The country sheets themselves are equivalent to Version 1.2 of the dataset.

Two new years have been used in a recent study by Lars Wilhelmsen. Click here to download his replication data.


For information, please contact Håvard Strand


This dataset is the result of a collaborative project between Tatu Vanhanen and International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). Work on this project has been supported by grants from the Joint Nordic Committee of Social Science Research Councils (NOS-S) to PRIO and from the US National Science Foundation (SBR-9810092) to Scott Gates of Michigan State University and PRIO.

Technical Details

Current version: 2.0

Updated: 1 Jan 2000

Range: 1810 - 2000

Units: Country, Year

Coverage: Global

Formats: Excel, SPSS, Stata

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