The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project is a large-scale data collection effort focused on the construction of a wide-ranging database different understandings of what democracy is (e.g., electoral democracy, liberal democracy, deliberative democracy, and egalitarian democracy). The V-Dem dataset is highly disaggregated (350 specific indicators), and it extends back to 1900 and covers virtually all sovereign and semi-sovereign polities of the world. In the talk, Skaaning will present the different features of the dataset, including the use of expert surveys, the employment of a sophisticated measurement model to take different levels of reliability and bias into account, and the challenge of establishing cross-country equivalence in the scores. The V-Dem dataset will be compared with the well-known democracy measures provided by Freedom House and Polity, and the analytical leverage will be illustrated with a few examples from ongoing research.
Svend-Erik Skaaning is professor of political science at Aarhus University, Denmark, and he is co-principal investigator of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) and Conflict and Democratization (CODE) projects. He has published numerous articles on democratization, civil liberties, and the rule of law in international journal, such as Journal of Democracy, Democratization, Perspectives on Politics, and Political Research Quarterly. Skaaning has also published a number of books on these issues, including Requisites of Democracy (Routledge), Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective (Routledge), and The Rule of Law: Definition, Measures, Patterns, and Causes (Palgrave). Skaaning is currently working on a book manuscript on democracy and dictatorship in the interwar years and papers on relationship between democracy on the one hand and conflict and human development on the other.