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  • Author: Stephen Lloyd Wilson
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: How does the Internet affect authoritarian regimes? This article argues that while the Internet has made mass mobilization easier than ever, its spread has also counter-intuitively allowed savvy authoritarian regimes to become more stable than ever. For the population, higher technical literacy means a demonstrable decrease in transaction costs and thus a greater incidence of collective action. However, higher regime technical literacy gives authoritarians the capacity to monitor their populations and solve the dictator’s information problem, thus keeping their populations satisfied without needing to liberalize. The article compiles a new and original data set of measures of technical literacy across all states since the year 2000, and used a factor analysis approach to construct latent measures of population and regime technical literacy for all country-years. A large-n, cross-country empirical approach finds strong evidence of the theorized relationship between technical literacy and revolution.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marcus Tannenberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Because of the perceived risk of repression some survey questions are likely sensitive in more autocratic countries while less so in more democratic countries. Yet, survey data on potentially sensitive topics are frequently used in comparative research despite concerns about comparability. In a novel approach to test the comparability of politically sensitive questions I employ a multilevel-analysis with more than 80 000 respondents in 36 African countries to test for systematic bias when the survey respondents believe (fear) that the government has commissioned the survey, as opposed to an independent research institute. The findings indicate that fear of the government induces a substantial and significant bias on questions regarding the citizen-state relationship in more autocratic countries, but not in more democratic countries. This has practical implications for the comparative use of survey data.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fernando Bizzarro, Allen Hicken, Dari Self
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Because levels of party institutionalization may affect the availability of good data, existing datasets have limited reliability and coverage. To overcome these problems, we introduce the V-Dem Party Institutionalization Index, the first global country-level index on the issue. It covers – as of May 2017 – 173 countries for 116 years (1900-2016). Its geographical coverage, timespan, and conceptual reach are larger than any existing alternative. We offer an additive index that measures the scope and depth of party institutionalization in a country every year. Scope is measured by the proportion of parties that reach a threshold of minimal institutionalization, while the linkages party establish with the masses and the elites define the depth. Exploring a set of well-known cases, we show that: the index has extensive face validity, is consistent across regime types, and is comparable to other established indicators of institutionalization.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Staffan I. Lindberg, Marcus Tannenberg
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Classifying political regimes has never been as difficult as in this day and age. Most regimes in the world now hold de-jure multiparty elections with universal suffrage. Yet, in some countries these elections ensure that political rulers are – at least somewhat – accountable to the electorate whereas in others they are a mere window dressing exercise for authoritarian politics. Hence, regime types need to be distinguished based on the de-facto implementation of democratic rules. To this end, researchers increasingly turn to expert-coded data sets such as the new Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset. Using V-Dem data, we propose an operationalization of four important regime types – closed and electoral autocracies; electoral and liberal democracies – with vast coverage (almost all countries form 1900 to 2016) and precision. Our new Regimes in the World (RIW) measure includes uncertainty estimates to identify countries in the grey zone between regime types and account for inter-coder disagreement. In cases of disagreement with other datasets (7-12% of the cases), we classify regimes with severe electoral manipulation and infringements of the political freedoms more frequently as electoral autocracies than other datasets, which suggests that our measure captures the opaqueness of contemporary autocracies better.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Kyle L Marquardt, Valeriya Mechkova
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Accountability - constraints on the government’s use of political power - is one of the cornerstones of good governance. However, conceptual stretching and a lack of reliable measures have limited cross-national research and comparisons regarding the role of both accountability writ large and its different sub-types. To address this research gap, we use the V-Dem dataset and Bayesian statistical models to develop new ways to conceptualize and measure accountability and its core dimensions. We provide indices capturing the extent to which governments are accountable to citizens (vertical accountability), other state institutions (horizontal accountability) and the media and civil society (diagonal accountability), as well as an aggregate index that incorporates the three sub-types. These indices cover virtually all countries from 1900 to today. We demonstrate the validity of our new measures by analyzing trends from key countries, as well as by demonstrating that the measures are positively related to development outcomes such as health and education.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Coppedge
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: For policymakers, activists, academics, and citizens around the world the conceptualization and measurement of democracy matters. The needs of democracy promoters and social scientists are convergent. We all need better ways to measure democracy. In the first section of this document we critically review the field of democracy indices. It is important to emphasize that problems identified with extant indices are not easily solved, and some of the issues we raise vis-à-vis other projects might also be raised in the context of the V-Dem project. Measuring an abstract and contested concept such as democracy is hard and some problems of conceptualization and measurement may never be solved definitively. In the second section we discuss in general terms how the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project differs from extant indices and how the novel approach taken by V-Dem might assist the work of activists, professionals, and scholars.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Haakon Gjerlow, Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Political leaders often have private incentives to pursue expensive and socially wasteful "white elephant" projects. Our argument highlights that weak accountability mechanisms allow autocratic leaders to more easily realize such projects, whereas democratic leaders are more constrained from doing so. We subsequently test different implications from this argument by drawing on a global dataset recording various features of skyscrapers, a prominent type of modern white elephant. We find that autocracies systematically build more new skyscrapers than democracies, and this result is robust to controlling for income level, state control over the economy, and country- and year-fixed effects. Further, autocratic skyscrapers are more excessive and wasteful than democratic. Autocratic regimes also pursue skyscraper projects no matter if they preside over rural or urban societies. In contrast, skyscrapers are fewer and - when first built - associated with less waste in democracies, and they are more frequently built urbanized democracies than in rural.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kelly McMann
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Theory predicts democracy should reduce corruption. Yet, numerous scholars have found empirically that corruption decreases at high levels of democracy but actually increases at low levels. A key weaknesses of studies that aim to explain this inverted curvilinear relationship, however, is that they do not disaggregate the complex concept of democracy. By contrast, this working paper disaggregates democracy theoretically and empirically. Our theoretical framework shows how components of democracy affect costs and benefits of engaging in corruption and, therefore, the level of corruption overall. Whereas other studies examine only how democratic accountability imposes costs on those engaging in corruption and thus illuminate only the downward curve of the relationship, we also examine the transaction costs and political support benefits of corruption and therefore can explain the initial uptick in corruption at low levels of democracy. Using measures of democratic components from Varieties of Democracy, we examine 173 countries from 1900 to 2012 and find that freedoms of expression and association exhibit the inverted curvilinear relationship with corruption, and that judicial constraints have a negative linear relationship. Moreover, the introduction of elections and the quality of elections act jointly, but each in a linear fashion. The mere introduction of elections increases corruption, thus accounting for the upward sloping segment of the inverted curve. Once the quality of elections be
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, David Altman
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Economic growth has become one of the leitmotivs academicians and pundits ask once and again to assess democratic endurance over time. While large portion of the literature posits that economic growth is positive for democracy (eg. Przeworski et al. 2000), for other scholars it is a profoundly destabilizing force (eg. Olson 1963; Huntington 1968). This paper fills these contrasting views asking whether economic growth can undermine democratic competition. We hypothesize that the relation between economic growth and party competition is mediated by the strength of political institutions and free expression. Economic growth promotes incumbency advantage. Rulers can artificially extend this advantage by narrowing the space for negative coverage and dissident voices as long as they have political room for maneuvering. We leverage exogenously-driven growth in Latin America to test this argument. Over the past two decades, the region experienced accelerated growth as a result of a global commodity boom. Using data for 18 Latin American countries during this period, we show that faster economic growth led to significant increases in incumbency advantage in the legislature only where free speech was under attack. Our findings have important implications for literatures on democratization, natural resources, and economic voting.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kyle L Marquardt, Daniel Pemstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Data sets quantifying phenomena of social-scientific interest often use multiple experts to code latent concepts. While it remains standard practice to report the average score across experts, experts likely vary in both their expertise and their interpretation of question scales. As a result, the mean may be an inaccurate statistic. Item-response theory (IRT) models provide an intuitive method for taking these forms of expert disagreement into account when aggregating ordinal ratings produced by experts, but they have rarely been applied to cross- national expert-coded panel data. In this article, we investigate the utility of IRT models for aggregating expert-coded data by comparing the performance of various IRT models to the standard practice of reporting average expert codes, using both real and simulated data. Specifically, we use expert-coded cross-national panel data from the V–Dem data set to both conduct real-data comparisons and inform ecologically-motivated simulation studies. We find that IRT approaches outperform simple averages when experts vary in reliability and exhibit differential item functioning (DIF). IRT models are also generally robust even in the absence of simulated DIF or varying expert reliability. Our findings suggest that producers of cross-national data sets should adopt IRT techniques to aggregate expert-coded data of latent concepts.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Anna Lührmann, Kelly McMann, Carolien van Ham
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Large-N studies suggest that democracy aid is effective, while multiple small-N investigations call such findings into question. This paper accounts for this contradiction and significantly improves our understanding of democracy aid effectiveness by disaggregating democracy aid into specific types and examining effectiveness in different regime types. We argue that a specific type of aid is more likely to be effective when the aid does not pose a threat to regime survival and when the aid matches the particular democratic deficits in a country. Analysis of OECD aid and Varieties of Democracy data for 119 countries from 2002-2012 supports our argument.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph E. Aldy
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the choice between—and design of—CO2 cap-and-trade and tax policies through a political-economy lens. It draws from insights in economics and political economy to highlight important public policy principles and policy options in carbon-pricing policy design. The paper illustrates each of these insights with examples from cap-and-trade and tax-policy experiences. Revealed political preferences about carbon-pricing-policy design can, in practice, inform our understanding of how decision-makers weigh various policy principles, as well as policy objectives. The balance of the paper examines the following design choices: establishing and phasing-in policy targets; setting the point of compliance and scope of coverage; addressing uncertainties in emission and cost outcomes under carbon pricing; updating carbon-pricing targets over time; using revenue and other forms of economic value created by carbon pricing; mitigating adverse competitiveness impacts of pricing carbon; accounting for the existing, complex policy landscape in designing carbon pricing; and linking of carbon-pricing programs. The final section concludes with a discussion of policy implications and next steps for policy-relevant scholarship.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Climate Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stig Jarle Hansen, Mohamed Husein Gaas, Ida Bary
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Although it may seem that the Muslim Brotherhood has weakened since the onset of the "Arab Winter" in 2013 and onward, organizations with their origins in the Brotherhood still have access to power in countries as diverse as Somalia, Bahrain, Morocco, and Yemen, and might regain power in other countries as well. Most Brotherhood-affiliated movements are committed to some form of democracy, unlike many of their rivals in the Middle East. Even the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have sought allies among Brotherhood affiliates, despite banning a majority of affiliated organizations.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This special report is prepared for the North American Forum (NAF). In 2015, CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program became the Secretariat for the Canadian leadership within the NAF. CIGI will be undertaking a program of research to support the Canadian contribution to the NAF in cooperation with our American and Mexican partners. In the coming months, CIGI will publish additional reports to support the work of the NAF. Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, trade, investment and migration flows among Canada, Mexico and the United States have helped turn North America into one of the most dynamic and prosperous trade blocs on the planet. With a new government in Ottawa, it is an ideal time for Canada to make a stronger, deeper relationship with Mexico a crucial plank of a plan to secure a prosperous future for North America. Better relations between Mexico and Canada not only means more opportunities to take advantage of the two countries’ economic and social complementarities, it also gives the two countries the opportunity to closely work together to get the United States on board with an ambitious North American agenda to secure the continent’s economic future.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Hongying Wang
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: In recent years, the world has seen rapid growth in China’s financial reach beyond its borders. Following the announcement of a “going out” strategy at the turn of the century, many Chinese enterprises have ventured to invest and operate abroad. After three decades as primarily a recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), China has now emerged as a major FDI-originating country as well. Much of China’s foreign aid is closely entangled with its outgoing FDI, and it has also been rising. Since 2013, the Chinese government has been pushing for a new One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, aiming to connect China with countries along the ancient Silk Road and a new Maritime Silk Road via infrastructure investment. In addition, since 2009, China has actively promoted the internationalization of its currency, the renminbi (RMB). There has been a great deal of anxiety about the motivations behind China’s going out policy and its possible international consequences. Many view it as an expression of China’s international ambition and a strategy that threatens the existing international order; however, that is not the whole story. An equally important but often less understood issue is the role of China’s domestic politics and political economy in shaping its new activism in foreign financial policy. Moreover, it is unclear how successful the going out policy is. The complexity of China’s going out policy was the topic for a recent round table discussion hosted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Foreign Policy Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.[1] Participants discussed a number of issues around two broad themes: the impact of domestic political economy on China’s foreign economic policy and the challenges for China’s external financial strategy — in particular, its OBOR initiative.
  • Topic: Markets, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Infrastructure, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Alex He
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper explores China’s perspectives and practices in its quest for overseas energy supply security and its participation in international energy cooperation since becoming a net oil import country in 1993. It compares the traditional approach, in which China mainly focuses on bilateral means to pursue its overseas energy supply security, and the new concept of energy security, in which greater involvement in global energy governance, in particular in the Group of Twenty (G20), is highlighted to promote China’s energy security. The paper argues that China still retains a bilateral and regional cooperation approach, while making progress in developing closer cooperation with existing major global energy governing institutions. The One Belt, One Road strategy proposed in 2013 is regarded as a strengthened version of the bilateral and regional cooperation approach. Chinese academic circles constitute the main forces advocating China’s more positive participation in global energy governance. The G20 provides significant institutional arrangements to coordinate big powers to govern the international energy markets and to address climate change. This paper suggests that, given China’s growing prominence at the G20, it could be the proper platform for the country to play a more active role in global energy governance.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Oil, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Governance, G20
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jacqueline Lopour
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Humanitarian crises across the world are the worst since World War II, and the situation is only going to get worse. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), almost 60 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes — that is approximately one in every 123 people on the planet (UNHCR 2016a). The problem is growing, as the number of those displaced is over 60 percent greater than the previous decade. As a result, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced the first ever World Humanitarian Summit to be held May 23-24, 2016. The world’s attention is focused on the Syrian refugee crisis, which has displaced 11 million people. But in doing so, the global community has lost sight of an equally severe humanitarian and displacement crisis — the situation in Yemen. Yemen now has more people in need of aid than any other country in the world, according to the UNOCHA Global Humanitarian Overview 2016. An estimated 21.2 million people in Yemen — 82 percent of the population — requires humanitarian aid, and this number is steadily growing (UNOCHA 2016a).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, War, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Global Focus
  • Author: Emily Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Internet enables the free flow of information on an unprecedented scale but to an increasing extent the management of individuals’ fundamental rights, such as privacy and the mediation of free expression, is being left in the hands of private actors. The popularity of a few web platforms across the globe confers on the providers both great power and heavy responsibilities. Free-to-use web platforms are founded on the sale of user data, and the standard terms give providers rights to intrude on every aspect of a user’s online life, while giving users the Hobson’s choice of either agreeing to those terms or not using the platform (the illusion of consent). Meanwhile, the same companies are steadily assuming responsibility for monitoring and censoring harmful content, either as a self-regulatory response to prevent conflicts with national regulatory environments, or to address inaction by states, which bear primary duty for upholding human rights. There is an underlying tension for those companies between self-regulation, on the one hand, and being held accountable for rights violations by states, on the other hand. The incongruity of this position might explain the secrecy surrounding the human systems that companies have developed to monitor content (the illusion of automation). Psychological experiments and opaque algorithms for defining what search results or friends’ updates users see highlight the power of today’s providers over their publics (the illusion of neutrality). Solutions could include provision of paid alternatives, more sophisticated definition and handling of different types of data — public, private, ephemeral, lasting — and the cooperation of all stakeholders in arriving at realistic and robust processes for content moderation that comply with the rule of law.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Science and Technology, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, Keiron O'Hara
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: In May 2014, the world of privacy regulation, data handling and the World Wide Web changed dramatically as a result of judgment C-131/12 in the CJEU. The so-called Google Spain decision confirmed that EU data protection legislation gives data subjects the right to request search engines to de-index webpages that appear in the search results on their names. The search engine is not obliged to agree to such requests — certain conditions have to be met and tests applied — but it is not free simply to ignore them. The decision drew on the 1995 DPD2 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and is consistent with a general direction toward more aggressive protection of privacy rights in Europe, as evidenced by the annulment of the Data Retention Directive, also in 2014 (CJEU 2014). Nevertheless, despite these antecedents, it has been seen as a major step in establishing a right to be forgotten.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Mass Media, Global Markets, Information Age, Digital Economy, Privacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Bertrand de la Chapelle, Paul Fehlinger
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The past 20 years have witnessed a profound change in the types of non-resident investors who provide funding to emerging market economies (EMEs) and the financial instruments through which emerging market (EM) corporations borrow from abroad. Until the beginning of the new millennium, private capital flows to EMEs were mainly intermediated by large global banks, and EMEs were subjected to massive volatility in their external payments balances, exchange rates and domestic financial systems. But since the early 2000s the role of bank-intermediated credit has declined, as the base of investors willing to take on exposure to EM corporate debt has become much larger and more diverse. These structural changes have encouraged a vast growth in flows of funds, not only from the mature economies to EMEs as a group, but also among EMEs themselves.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus