Problem Set 9
You must submit all assignments as a Word document. Answer all questions carefully and neatly. Use section headings to distinguish what question you are answering. If the question involves a graph, copy/paste the graph into your document and make sure the graph has a title and axis labels.
Task 1: Freedom in The World
Freedom House is an organization that purportedly aims to track the state of “freedom” in the world, by which they mean the status of civil and political liberties in different countries. Their big publication is the “Freedom in the World” report, which assigns each country a score and reports on how they’re doing, freedom-wise.
Go to the Freedom in the World Report page for the country you’ve been following1 for the most recent year the report is available (2021 unlikely to be posted yet). As an example, here’s the one for Cuba.
What score do FH give your country (or another if not available)?
Look at the “Key Developments in YEAR” section of the page. Pick one and talk about what implications that event might have for the state of democracy in the country.
FH has been criticized in the past for bias in their country evaluations. Google around and describe what critics say that bias is (provide a link!).
Task 2: V-DEM
The Varieties of Democracy (V-DEM) Project is an attempt by political scientists to measure and quantify the state of democracy in every country in the world, going back to the 1800s.
Visit their webpage linked above. What is VDEMs procedure or methodology for measuring democracy? Where does the underlying data come from? Give me 3-5 sentences.
Look at this data from V-DEM and note the 5 Major Indices of Democracy that V-DEM makes available (the
v2xvariables). Go to the codebook and find out what exactly these five variables are. Give me a layman’s definition of each (i.e., in very simple terms!).
For each year in the data, find the average of each index variable and plot those averages over time, so that you can see how the region as a whole is changing over time with respect to each index. What is the general pattern? Any particularly bad times, or good? What does the most recent data suggest in the broader context?
For the country you’ve been following all semester, plot the 5 Indices over time (a line plot or scatter plot would work).2 Describe the general trajectory. What stands out? Do all 5 Indices generally move together, or do they sometimes diverge? Any big changes, leaps, or drops? What does your country look like most recently?
Comparing the plot of your country to the general trend for the region in (3) above, where does your country stack up? Is it in better or worse shape than the average for Latin America?