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Foreign government websites
Links to official government sites, courtesy of Northwestern University.
U.S. State Department Country Background Notes
Covers all the countries of the world with which the United States has relations. Each report contains info on bilateral relations with the U.S., travel, and business. There are also additional useful links, including a link to the CIA World Factbook entry for each country. These reports are updated periodically.
Democracy and Regime Type
World Economics and Politics Dataverse
Merges together 80+ of the most commonly used datasets in comparative and international political economy (including several listed on this page) into a uniform country-year format with consistent country codes. Variables cover democracy/regime type, parties and governments, development and economic indicators, and some social/cultural measures. Users can download as many or as few of the 885 variables from these datasets as needed. Data exports to .csv with Stata or R labels.
Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)
A collaboration among more than 50 scholars worldwide and drawing on 3000 Country Experts, V-Dem provides multiple indices of democracy grouped according to 7 high-level Principles of Democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, majoritarian, consensual, deliberative, and egalitarian. Provides 5 high-level indices, 47 mid-level indices, and 450 individual indicators. Covers all countries (and some dependent territories) from 1900 to the present (91 countries back to 1789) and provides an estimate of measurement reliability for each rating. Data in multiple formats.
Well-known and highly respected Polity data series, originally designed by Ted Robert Gurr. Polity IV contains coded annual information on regime characteristics for all independent states (with greater than 500,000 total population) in the global state system and covers the years 1800+.
Freedom in the World
Freedom House's popular dataset, which ranks each country in the world annually on how free it is. Countries are ranked on a 1 to 7 scale (1 being most free) on separate measures of political rights and civil liberties (including media freedom), and then given a designation as "free," "partly free," or "not free." Rankings in Excel, 1973+. See also their Freedom of the Press
Measures the quality of democracy based on a concept of democracy embracing liberal as well as participatory ideas. Covers 70 countries, 1990-2014, utilizing nearly 100 indicators in nine areas: individual liberties, rule of law, public sphere, competition, mutual constraints, governmental capability, transparency, participation and representation. Data in Stata and Excel.
Boix-Miller-Rosato Democracy Data
Simple dichotomous coding of democracy, where a democratic country is one that satisfies conditions for both contestation and participation. 1800-2010.
Democracy & Dictatorship Data (Cheibub, Gandhi, and Vreeland 2010)
Classification of political regimes as democracy or dictatorship. Classification of democracies as parliamentary, semi-presidential (mixed) and presidential. Classification of dictatorships as military, civilian and royal. Coverage: 202 countries, from 1946 or year of independence to 2008. Data in Stata and Excel.
Autocratic Regime Data
Geddes, Wright, and Frantz dataset focused on providing a detailed typology of autocratic regimes, their duration, and failure, 1946-2010. Also includes data coding democracies and non-autocracies for comparative research. Data in Stata, .txt, and Excel formats.
Democratic Erosion Event Dataset (DEED)
Identifies cases of potential democratic erosion based on data from the V-Dem project and then classifies events of democratic erosion and resistance to erosion. Erosion events are coded as either precursors (including threats to vertical and horizontal accountability, economic shocks, security events) or symptoms (including reductions in vertical and/or horizontal accountability or changes in societal norms). Data in Excel; covers 92 countries from 2000-2018; approx. 1800 events.
Nations, Development, and Democracy, 1800-2005
"This data collection consists of a compiled database that assesses 187 (20 historical and 167 contemporary) sovereign countries from 1800-2005." It compiles data from several sources, including Polity III, Polity IV, Freedom House, and World Development Indicators.
Quality of Government Dataset
Compiles a wide range of freely available data on the causes, consequences, and nature of good governance and Quality of Government (QoG) - that is, trustworthy, reliable, impartial, uncorrupt, and competent government institutions. Click on "Data downloads" on the left. Because it includes so many different variables, you can download different "flavors" of the dataset, including a simplified "basic" dataset as well as social policy and expert survey datasets.
Worldwide Governance Indicators
Aggregate and individual governance indicators for 215 economies over the period 1996-2012, for six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability; Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism; Government Effectiveness; Regulatory Quality; Rule of Law; Control of Corruption. Compiled by researchers at the World Bank. Also available through the WB Databank
HRV Transparency Index
Index measuring transparency as the disclosure of policy-relevant information by the government to the public, specifically the availability of credible aggregate economic data. Provides observations for 125 countries from 1980-2010. Data in Stata and R.
State Capacity Scores
Data measuring "legibility"--or "the breadth and depth of the state’s information about its citizens and their activities"--which is used as a proxy for state capacity. Measured using Myers scores, which gauge the accuracy of age data reported in national population censuses. Covers 131 countries, generally 1960-2015. Also includes subnational scores for most countries. Data in Stata.
Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index
The index measures the degree of economic freedom present in five major areas:  Size of Government;  Legal System and Security of Property Rights;  Sound Money;  Freedom to Trade Internationally;  Regulation. In total, the index comprises 42 distinct variables. All variables come from third party sources, such as the International Country Risk Guide, the Global Competitiveness Report, and the World Bank’s Doing Business project. Data can be downloaded to Excel.
Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI)
"Analyzes and evaluates the quality of democracy, a market economy and political management in 129 developing and transition countries. It measures successes and setbacks on the path toward a democracy based on the rule of law and a socially responsible market economy." Covers 2006-present.
Hertie Governance Indicators
Aims to build a new generation of governance indicators that take seriously the multi-level and multi-actor nature of governance in a globalized world, that are grounded in conceptual models, and that stay close to the governance problems of our times. Indicators vary to match the theme of each annual Governance Report. Data available in csv, Stata, R, and Excel; 2013-present.
Integrated Network for Societal Conflict Research (systemicpeace.org) Datasets
Various cross-national time-series conflict datasets, including data on forcibly displaced populations, major political violence, genocide and ethnic violence, terrorist bombings, revolutions, coups d'etat, and failed/fragile states (mostly 1950s-present). Data downloadable in SPSS or Excel.
Economic and Political Risk Assessments
Additional sources for measuring political and economic risk at the country level (from our International Macroeconomics guide).
World Bank Enterprise Surveys On Corruption
Captures the prevalence of different types of bribery in 139 countries based on surveys of more than 135,000 firms. Data can be explored in conjunction with other topics in the surveys. Generally covers 1-2 waves, 2007-present. Data in Excel.
Ibrahim Index Of African Governance (IIAG)
Annual index assessing governance in all 54 African countries. Pulls in data on 100 indicators from 36 sources and standardizes into a single comparative index. Four overarching categories are safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development. Covers 2000-present. Data can be downloaded in Excel.
Regional/Subnational Governments & Federalism
Regional Authority Index
Data for the Regional Authority Index (RAI) are in two datasets (region is defined as a jurisdiction between national government and local government):
- one with annual scores for 231 regional governments/tiers in 65 countries for the period 1950-2010
- one aggregating these scores to the country level
- measured on ten dimensions: institutional depth, policy scope, fiscal autonomy, borrowing autonomy, representation, law making, executive control, fiscal control, borrowing control, and constitutional reform
- Data in Excel (at bottom of the page).
Inclusion, Dispersion, and Constraints Dataset
Measures underlying political power-sharing and federalism structures and their ability to support credible policy commitments. Covers 180 countries, 1975-2010. Data in multiple formats.
Provides indicators of party strength for 227 regionalist parties competing in regional and national elections in 329 regions of 18 countries, 1944-2010. Data in Excel.
Quality of Government EU Regional Data
Consists of approximately 450 governance indicators covering three levels of European regions - Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS): NUTS0 (country), NUTS1 (major socio-economic regions) and NUTS2 (basic regions for the application of regional policies). 1990-2015, data in multiple formats.
Parties, Parliaments, Governments, and Leaders
Database of Political Institutions (DPI)
Covers 180 countries, 1975-2017. Codes 125 variables about executives, governments, and opposition parties such as:
- tenure and stability of the government
- fragmentation of opposition and government parties in the legislature
- nationalist, rural, religious, and partisan economic orientation of executives and government/opposition parties
- date of election, vote share & seat share, electoral rules, checks and balances, and federalism
Party Government Data Set
Covers 39 parliamentary democracies (mostly European), 1945-2008. Codes for duration of government, parties in government, seat share, reason for termination, number of ministers in cabinet, and ideological composition. Data in Excel.
European Representative Democracy (ERD) Dataset
Cabinet-level data for 29 European democracies in post-WWII Europe. For each country, the archive contains data for all cabinets that have formed after the introduction of the current democratic regime of parliamentary democracy. Codes for cabinet formation and termination, ideological orientation and policy preferences, cabinet structure (seat shares, coalitions, bargaining power, etc.), institutional powers, and more. 1945-2010. Data in Excel and Stata.
Comparative Political Data Set, 1960-2015
Political and institutional variables for 36 OECD and EU countries, including government composition, elections, party systems, openness of the economy, labor and unions, social expenditures and policy. Data in Stata and Excel.
ParlGov: Parliaments and governments database
Covering all EU and most OECD democracies (37 countries), provides information on:
- 1600 parties (party family, placement on various scales: left-right, state-market, liberty-authority, pro-anti EU)
- 950 elections, 8700 results (vote share, seats, and placement on left-right scale)
- 1500 cabinets involving 3700 parties (cabinet and opposition parties in parliament with their seat strength at each instance of government formation, includes cabinet start date, caretaker status, prime minister's party) Data in .csv.
Parline: Inter-Parliamentary Union Open Data
Comparative data on parliaments around the world, covering structure, membership (incl. some demographics), and rules of the institution. Data can be visualized or downloaded to .csv. Mostly data from the last decade, but some variables have deeper historical time series.
Autocratic Ruling Parties Dataset
Includes all autocratic ruling parties in the world from 1940–2015, covering 279 autocratic ruling party spells (with 262 unique parties). Codes for party origin, how it gained/lost power, time in power, regime type and following regime type, and post-transition fate among others. Data in Excel and Stata.
Codes for the policy preferences of over 1000 parties from 1945 until today in over 50 countries on five continents. It provides access to manifesto texts and content-analytical data and provides tools to explore and visualize the data and text corpus.
Seki-Williams Government and Ministers Data
Seki-Williams extend the Woldendorp, Keman and Budge government composition data. Variables include government duration (with start and end dates), constitutional interelection period, type of government (majority, coalition, etc.), reason for government termination, party info and seat share, and ideological complexion of government and parliament. Also includes datasets on cabinet ministers and annual government partisanship. Covers about 50 countries, between 1945 and present. Data in Stata.
Archigos. A Data Base on Leaders 1875 - 2015
Archigos specifically identifies the effective leaders of each independent state; it codes when and how leaders came into power, their age, and their gender, as well as their personal fate one year after they lost office. Data is in Stata format accompanied by a PDF codebook with detailed case descriptions. (Alternate data link
Change in Source of Leader Support (CHISOLS) Data
"The goal of the CHISOLS data is to differentiate leader transitions in which a new leader comes to office who depends on different societal groups for support than her predecessor from leader transitions where both the current leader and her predecessor rely on essentially the same groups for support. The data cover all countries with a population of more than 500,000 between 1919-2008. CHISOLS is available in two formats, one with the state-year as unit of analysis, and one with the leader as unit of analysis." In .csv and Stata formats.
Quality of Public Administration/Bureaucracy Expert Survey
Fielded by the Quality of Government project, the survey measures the structure and behavior of public administration across 122 countries utilizing more than 1000 experts in multiple waves, 2008-present. Topics include meritocratic recruitment, internal promotion and career stability, salaries, impartiality, New Public Management (NPM) reforms, effectiveness/efficiency, corruption & embezzlement, transparency & control, women in the public sector, replacement of public sector employees, and bureaucratic representation. Data in multiple formats.