Internet Activities


The Polity IV Data Set

For this exercise, you will browse some of the data used to test the theory of democratic peace from the Polity IV Project.

1. At the top of the page, there is a graph labeled “Global Trends in Governance, 1800-2012” (if the site has been updated, browse through it and see if you can find a new version). Click on the graph to see a larger version. How do you describe the changes in the number of democracies and autocracies over time?

2. On that graph, pick out periods of time where the number of democracies and autocracies changed to a great degree. When did those changes take place? Given what you know of world history, what events or trends do you think are correlated with those changes? Can you explain how those events may have caused those changes?

3. Read the section labeled “Brief Description.” What do you think the compilers of this data set mean by “concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority?” What scale do they use to measure regime type, and what scores are associated with democracy and autocracy? What is an anocracy?

4. Click on “Polity IV Data Series version 2012,” and on the INSCR Data main page, find the link for the “Polity IV Users’ Manual PDF File.” On the linked PDF file, go to page 13 and find the section titled “Indicators of Democracy and Autocracy (Composite Indicators).” What three trends in the state structure do the authors discuss?

5. On page 14, find the section labeled “DEMOC” (and the next section, labeled “AUTOC”). What characteristics do the authors use to measure democracy and autocracy? Which perspective do you think is reflected in the authors’ choice of these variables? Would you include any other variables, or omit any of the ones they use?

6. Go back to the INSCR Data main page and click on “Global Report 2011,” which links to a PDF of the report. On page 3, find the section titled “Conflict Dimension: Global Trends in Armed Conflict.” What types of conflict do the authors discuss, and what trends in armed conflict do they point out? What examples of each type of conflict do the authors mention?

7. Given the list of armed conflicts the report provides and what you know about the regimes of the different states involved, what correlation do you see between regime type and armed conflict (both societal and interstate)? What hypotheses can you propose to explain these correlations, and which level of analysis describes those hypotheses?