Classification of countries according to the Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2021
survey, concerning the state of world freedom in 2020.
Free Partly Free Not Free
Countries designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2021 survey, covering the year 2020.
Freedom in the World is a yearly survey and report by the U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House that measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world.
Origin and use
Freedom in the World was launched in 1973 by Raymond Gastil. It produces annual scores representing the levels of political rights and civil liberties in each state and territory, on a scale from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free). Depending on the ratings, the nations are then classified as "Free", "Partly Free", or "Not Free". The report is often used by researchers in order to measure democracy and correlates highly with several other measures of democracy such as the Polity data series.
The Freedom House rankings are widely reported in the media and used as sources by political researchers. Their construction and use has been evaluated by critics and supporters.
The rankings are from the Freedom in the World 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, surveys, each report covering the previous year. The average of each pair of ratings on political rights and civil liberties determines the overall status of "Free" (1.0–2.5), "Partly Free" (3.0–5.0), or "Not Free" (5.5–7.0).
An asterisk (*) indicates countries which are "electoral democracies". To qualify as an "electoral democracy", a state must have satisfied the following criteria:
- A competitive, multiparty political system;
- Adult suffrage for all citizens without criminal convictions (some states may further punish and subjugate people with criminal convictions by disenfranchising them from the democratic process);
- Regularly contested elections conducted in conditions of ballot secrecy, reasonable ballot security, and the absence of massive voter fraud that yields results that are unrepresentative of the public will; and
- Significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning.
An electoral democracy must have a score of 7 or more out of 12 in political rights subcategory A (Electoral Progress), an overall aggregate score of 20 in their political rights rating and an overall aggregate score of 30 in their civil liberties rating.
Freedom House's term "electoral democracy" differs from "liberal democracy" in that the latter also implies the presence of a substantial array of civil liberties. In the survey, all Free countries qualify as both electoral and liberal democracies. By contrast, some Partly Free countries qualify as electoral, but not liberal, democracies.
Territories and countries with limited recognition
According to Freedom House, a quarter of all declines of freedom in the world in 2016 took place in Europe.
Percentage of countries in each category, from the 1973 through 2021 reports:
Sources: Country Status and ratings overview 1973–2016, Number and percentages of electoral democracies 1989–2016, Freedom in the World 2018 report covering 2017.
- The years shown in the map and table above are the year the survey was released, the data shown covers the prior calendar year.
- The chart and table above do not include data for related/disputed territories.
There is some debate over the neutrality of Freedom House and the methodology used for the Freedom in the World report, which has been written by Raymond D. Gastil and his colleagues. The neutrality and biases of human-rights indices have been discussed in several publications by Kenneth A. Bollen. Bollen wrote that "Considered together these criticisms suggest that some nations may have been incorrectly rated on Gastil's measures. However, none of the criticisms have demonstrated a systematic bias in all the ratings. Most of the evidence consists of anecdotal evidence of relatively few cases. Whether there is a systematic or sporadic slant in Gastil's ratings is an open question" (Bollen, 1986, p. 586). The freedom index of Freedom in the World has a very strong and positive (at least an 80%) correlation with three other democracy-indices studied in Mainwaring (2001, p. 53).
Ideological bias or neutrality
In his 1986 study, Bollen discussed reviews of measurements of human rights, including the index reported in Freedom in the World (Bollen, 1986, p. 585). Criticisms of Freedom in the World during the 1980s were discussed by Gastil (1990), who stated that "generally such criticism is based on opinions about Freedom House rather than detailed examination of survey ratings", a conclusion disputed by Giannone. The definition of Freedom in Gastil (1982) and Freedom House (1990) emphasized liberties rather than the exercise of freedom, according to Adam Przeworski, who gave the following example: In the United States, citizens are free to form political parties and to vote, yet even in presidential elections only half of U.S. "citizens" vote; in the U.S., "the same two parties speak in a commercially sponsored unison", wrote Przeworski (2003, p. 277).
More recent charges of ideological bias prompted Freedom House to issue this 2010 statement:
Freedom House does not maintain a culture-bound view of freedom. The methodology of the survey is grounded in basic standards of political rights and civil liberties, derived in large measure from relevant portions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.
Mainwaring et alia (2001, p. 52) wrote that Freedom House's index had "two systematic biases: scores for leftist were tainted by political considerations, and changes in scores are sometimes driven by changes in their criteria rather than changes in real conditions." Nonetheless, when evaluated in Latin American countries yearly, Freedom House's index was very strongly and positively correlated with the index of Adam Przeworski and with the index of the authors themselves: They evaluated Pearson's coefficient of linear correlation between their index and Freedom House's index, which was 0.82; among these indices and the two others studied, the correlations were all between 0.80 and 0.86 (Mainwaring et alia, 2001, p. 53).
As previously quoted, Bollen criticized previous studies of Freedom in the World as anecdotal and inconclusive; they raised issues needing further study by scientific methods rather than anecdotes. Bollen studied the question of ideological bias using multivariate statistics. Using their factor-analytic model for human-rights measurements, Bollen and Paxton estimate that Gastil's method produces a bias of -0.38 standard deviations (s.d.) against Marxist–Leninist countries and a larger bias, +0.5 s.d., favoring Christian countries; similar results held for the methodology of Sussman (Bollen and Paxton, 2000, p. 585). In contrast, another method by a critic of Freedom in the World produced a bias for Leftist countries during the 1980s of at least +0.8 s.d., a bias that is "consistent with the general finding that political scientists are more favorable to leftist politics than is the general population" (Bollen and Paxton, p. 585).
Use and conceptual analysis
Criticisms of the reception and uses of the Freedom in the World report have been noted by Diego Giannone:
- "Conceptual stretching", Giovanni Sartori's critical term for a methodological shortcoming common in social studies. Giannone reports as an example that, according to Landman and Hausermann (2003), "the index by FH has been used as a tool for measuring democracy, good governance, and human rights, thus producing a conceptual stretching which is a major cause of 'losses in connotative precision': in short, an instrument used to measure everything, in the end, is not able to discriminate against anything."
- Issues with aggregation. Giannone quotes Scoble and Wiseberg's conclusion (1981) that "the sum of a civil liberty score of 4 and a political liberty score of 2 is the same as the sum of a civil liberty score of 2 and a political liberty score of 4 even though the substantive interpretation of these different combinations is different."
- "Lack of specificity and rigorousness in construction" and "inadequate level of transparency and replicability of the scales", the first referencing to Scoble et alie (1981) and the latter to Hadenius and Teorell (2005). In support of the latter, he also quotes the conclusion of Munck and Verkuilen (2002) that "the aggregate data offered by Freedom House has to be accepted largely on faith", due to the factors that "no set of coding rules is provided, and the sources of information are not identified with enough precision, and because disaggregated data have not been made available to independent scholars".
In "Political and ideological aspects in the measurement of democracy: the Freedom House case" (2010) which reviewed changes to the methodology since 1990, Diego Giannone concluded that "because of the changes in methodology over time and the strict interconnection between methodological and political aspects, the FH data do not offer an unbroken and politically neutral time series, such that they should not be used for cross-time analyses even for the development of first hypotheses. The internal consistency of the data series is open to question."
On this topic, the Freedom House website replies that they have "made a number of modest methodological changes to adapt to evolving ideas about political rights and civil liberties. At the same time, the time series data are not revised retroactively, and any changes to the methodology are introduced incrementally in order to ensure the comparability of the ratings from year to year."
- ^ "Freedom in the World Countries | Freedom House". freedomhouse.org. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- ^ List of Electoral Democracies FIW20 (.XLSX), by Freedom House
- ^ William Ide (11 January 2000). "Freedom House Report: Asia Sees Some Significant Progress". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
- ^ a b c d
Bollen, K.A., "Political Rights and Political Liberties in Nations: An Evaluation of Human Rights Measures, 1950 to 1984", Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 4 (November 1986), pp.567–591. Also in: Jabine, T.B. and Pierre Claude, R. (Eds.), Human Rights and Statistics, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp. 188–215, ISBN 0-8122-3108-2.
- ^ “Correlation Versus Interchangeability: the Limited Robustness of Empirical Finding on Democracy Using Highly Correlated Data Sets", Gretchen Casper and Claudiu Tufis, Political Analysis, 11:2 (2003), pp. 196–203, Society for Political Methodology
- ^ a b
Przeworski, Adam (2003). "Freedom to choose and democracy". Economics and Philosophy. 19 (2): 265–279. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.570.736. doi:10.1017/S0266267103001159.
- ^ Freedom in the World 2015, Freedom House, 28 January 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2016" (PDF). Freedom House. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2017" (PDF). Freedom House. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2018" (PDF). Freedom House. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2019" (PDF). Freedom House. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2020" (PDF). Freedom House. 4 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
- ^ "Freedom in the World 2021" (PDF). Freedom House. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
- ^ a b c d "Freedom in the World 2010: Methodology", Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom house
- ^ "Methodology: Freedom in the World 2018". freedomhouse.org. 13 January 2018.
- ^ "Countries and Territories". Freedom House. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
- ^ Puerto Rico *. Retrieved from https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2016/puerto-rico
- ^ Freedom House (2017). Freedom in the World, 2017 (PDF). Freedom House. p. 1. Archived from the original on 27 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
[N]early one-quarter of the countries registering declines in 2016 were in Europe.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- ^ "Country Status and ratings overview", Freedom In the World 1973–2016, Freedom House. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
- ^ "Number and percentages of electoral democracies", Freedom In the World 1973–2016, Freedom House. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
- ^ Freedom In the World 2018, Freedom House.
- ^ Bollen has held chairs as a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Also serving as an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at UNC-CH, Bollen wrote the leading graduate textbook in structural equation models (SEM), often called LISREL models; SEM modeling allows the summary of a large number of measurements using a small number of meaningful factors. SEM was used by Bollen in the studies reported hereafter.
- ^ a b c Mainwaring, S.; Brinks, D.; Pérez-Liñán, A.B. (2001). "Classifying Political Regimes in Latin". Studies in Comparative International Development. 36 (1): 37–65. doi:10.1007/BF02687584. S2CID 155047996.
- ^ Gastil, R.D. (1990). "The Comparative Survey of Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions". Studies in Comparative International Development. 25 (1): 25–50. doi:10.1007/BF02716904. S2CID 144099626.
- ^ a b Bollen, Kenneth A. and Paxton, Pamela, "Subjective Measures of Liberal Democracy", Comparative Political Studies, vol. 33, no. 1 (February 2000), pp. 58–86
Giannone, Diego, "Political and ideological aspects in the measurement of democracy: the Freedom House case", Democratization, vol. 17, no. 1 (February 2010), pp. 68–97.
- ^ "Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics." The American Political Science Review 64 (4): 1033–1053.
- ^ Giannone (2010), p. 69. Quoting Landman, Tod, and Julia Hausermann, Map-Making and Analysis of the Main International Initiatives on Developing Indicators on Democracy and Good Governance Archived 13 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Final Report, University of Essex – Human Rights Centre, July 2003, 98 pp.
- ^ Scoble, Harry and Laurie Wiseberg, Ved Nanda, Ved, James Scarritt, and George Shepherd (eds) (1981), "Problems of Comparative Research in Human Rights", Global Human Rights: Public Policies, Comparative Measures and NGO Strategies, pp. 147–171, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, ISBN 978-0-89158-858-0. Cited in Giannone (2010), p. 69.
- ^ a b Giannone (2010), p. 69, citing Scoble, et al. (1981) and Axel Hadenius and Jan Teorell. "Assessing Alternative Indices of Democracy", Political Concepts, Committee on Concepts and Methods, Working Paper Series, August 2005, 47 pp.
- ^ Munck, Gerardo L. and Verkuilen, Jay, "Conceptualising and Measuring Democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices" Archived 11 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Comparative Political Studies, vol. 35, no. 1 (February 2002), pp. 5–34. Cited in Giannone (2010), p. 69.
- ^ Giannone (2010), p. 68.
- Bollen, Kenneth A. (1991), Inkeles, Alex (ed.), "On measuring democracy: Its consequences and concomitants (Chapter 1, Political democracy: Conceptual and measurement traps)", Proceedings of the Conference on Measuring Democracy, 27–28 May 1988, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (second printing, 1993 ed.), New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transactions Publishers, pp. 3–20, ISBN 978-0-88738-881-1
- Bollen, Kenneth; Paxton, Pamela; Morishima, Rumi (June 2005). "Assessing international evaluations: An example from USAID's Democracy and Governance Programs" (PDF). American Journal of Evaluation. 26 (2): 189–203. doi:10.1177/1098214005275640. S2CID 146522432. Evaluation performed on behalf of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), at the request of and with funding from the Strategic and Operational Research Agenda (SORA) of USAID (Office of Democracy and Governance in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance), according to the National Research Council (2008, p. 28).
- Gastil, Raymond Duncan (1991), Inkeles, Alex (ed.), "On measuring democracy: Its consequences and concomitants (Chapter 2, The comparative survey of freedom: Experiences and suggestions)", Proceedings of the Conference on Measuring Democracy, 27–28 May 1988, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (second printing, 1993 ed.), New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Transactions Publishers, pp. 21–46, ISBN 978-0-88738-881-1
- Inkeles, Alex, ed. (1991), "On measuring democracy: Its consequences and concomitants (Part I: Measuring democratic political systems)", Proceedings of the Conference on Measuring Democracy, 27–28 May 1988, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (second printing, 1993 ed.), New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transactions Publishers, pp. 1–121, ISBN 978-0-88738-881-1
- National Research Council, Committee on Evaluation of USAID Democracy Assistance Programs (2008). Goldstone, Jack A (ed.). Improving democracy assistance: Building knowledge through evaluations and research. pp. xvi+336. ISBN 978-0-309-11736-4. Individuals can download the complete report (pdf format) for private use.