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International Relations *

A guide to databases and scholarly online sources that support conducting research in international relations and comparative politics.

Global Measurements and Indexes

Listed below are annual or special indexes that rank countries by specific social, economic, cultural, environmental, or administrative measurements.

NOTE:  Always critically examine the methods used in calculating rank so that you have a complete understanding of why a particular country or set of countries is ranked above or below another country or set of countries or why a country may be excluded. A description of the gathering and analysis methods are normally included in the introduction of the measurement index.

  • Bribe Payers Index -- produced by Transparency International, this index  ranks wealthy countries by the propensity of firms to bribe abroad and looks at which industries are the worst offenders.
  • Commitment to Development Index -- a ranking of twenty-seven of the world's richest countries on their policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. The Index quantifies the quantity and quality of foreign aid, openness to trade, policies that encourage investment and financial transparency, openness to migration, environmental policies, promoting international security, and support for technology creation and transfer.
  • Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index -- a new global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap between rich and poor. The Index uses a new database of indicators covering 152 countries, which measures government action on social spending, tax and labor rights – three areas found to be critical to reducing inequality.
  • Corruption Perceptions Index -- ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
  • Democracy Index -- this index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on sixty indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime.
  • Environmental Performance Index -- ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These metrics provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals. The Index offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance, gives insight on best practices, and provides guidance for countries that aspire to be leaders in sustainability. Produced jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.
  • Fragile States Index -- produced by The Fund for Peace (FFP), the index details the existing social, economic and political pressures faced in 178 countries, highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are outweighing a states’ capacity to manage those pressures. By highlighting pertinent vulnerabilities which contribute to the risk of state fragility, the Index makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.
  • Freedom in the World Index -- compiled by the NGO, Freedom House, this annual report assesses the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world. It is composed of numerical ratings and supporting descriptive texts for 195 countries and 14 territories. For each country and territory, the report analyzes the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, the functioning of the government, freedom of expression and of belief, associational and organizational rights, the rule of law, and personal autonomy and individual rights.
  • Global Liveability Index -- the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability Index provides a full report 140 cities around the world that have have the best or worst living conditions. The Index examines over thirty different qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Note that you must fill out a brief form to receive a copy of the report via email.
  • Global Retirement Index -- a multi-dimensional index developed by Natixis Global Asset Management and Core Data Research to examine the factors that drive retirement security and to provide a comparison tool for best practices in retirement policy. The index incorporates eighteen performance indicators, grouped into four thematic sub-indices, which have been calculated on the basis of data gathered by a range of international organizations and academic sources. It takes into account the particular characteristics of the older demographic retiree group in order to assess and compare the level of retirement security in different countries around the world.
  • Global Slavery Index --  provides a country by country ranking of the number of people in modern slavery, as well as an analysis of the actions governments are taking to respond, and the factors that make people vulnerable. The index is produced by the Free Walk, an anti-slavery advocacy organization.
  • Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index -- initiative is aimed at improving effectiveness, accountability, and inclusiveness of public institutions. Using nearly 100 indicators, the Leadership Index explores the trends and relationships between three pillars: pathways, positions, and power, held by women across different sectors of government. The site allows users to explore the numbers by country, compare data across countries, review findings, and download datasets.
  • Good Country Index -- produced by the scholar-activist Simon Anholt, the purpose of this index is to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away, relative to its size. Using a wide range of data from the United Nations and other international organizations, each country is assigned a “balance sheet” showing whether it is a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.
  • Human Development Index -- the is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living. It is an index of socioeconomic indicators that measures quality of life in terms of health, education and income in all countries in the world. It has been compiled since 1990 and is produced annually.
  • Inclusive Internet Index -- compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Facebook, the Index provides an international benchmark of internet inclusion across four categories: availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness. Now in its second year, the 2018 Index is accompanied by a new Value of the Internet survey, which canvassed 4,267 internet users across 85 countries to assess the impact it has on their lives.
  • Index of Economic Freedom -- co-published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, the index documents economic policy developments throughout the world. Each country profile includes justification and analysis of policies related to each category of economic freedom. In addition, country pages provide detailed background knowledge, including a history and key macroeconomic data. With over twenty years’ worth of data, the database contain thousands of data points that can contribute to statistical and econometric analysis.
  • KOF Globalisation Index -- measures the economic, social and political dimensions of globalization. It is used to monitor changes in the level of globalization of different countries over extended periods of time. There are three sub-domains of measurement: economic globalization, social globalization, and  political globalization. Collectively, the index measures globalization on a scale of 1 to 100.
  • Legatum Prosperity Index -- using data for 149 countries over eleven years, the index describes the conditions required for prosperity using 104 indicators in relation to nine areas of measurement: Economic Quality, Business Environment, Governance, Personal Freedom, Social Capital, Safety and Security, Education, Health, and the Natural Environment. The goal of the index is to illustrate how countries have moved toward or away from prosperity over time.
  • Principled Aid Index -- developed by the Overseas Development Institute, an independent think tank based in London, this Index ranks bilateral Development Assistance Committee donors by how they use official development assistance to pursue their long-term national interest.
  • Religion and State -- the index consists of a set of measures that systematically examine the intersection between government and religion. Specifically, its aim is to provide an accurate description of government religion policies worldwide,  create a tool which will lead to greater understanding of the factors which influence government religion policy, and provide the means to examine how government religion policy influences other political, social, and economic factors as well as how those factors influence government religion policy.
  • Social Progress Index -- an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that measure fifty indicators of social and environmental outcomes. These indicators are divided across three broad dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. Within each dimension, there are four components that further divide the indicators into thematic categories. The index facilitates granular analysis of the specific underpinnings of social progress in each country, while the broad categories help to better understand global and regional trends.
  • Soft Power 30 Index -- produced by the USC Center for Public Diplomacy, the index compares the relative strength of countries’ soft power resources; assessing the quality of a country’s political institutions, the extent of their cultural appeal, the strength of their diplomatic network, the global reputation of their higher education system, the attractiveness of their economic model, and a country’s digital engagement with the world. Measures are based on the three pillars of soft power, political values, culture, and foreign policy, and analyzed using over 75 metrics across six sub-indices of objective data and seven categories of new international polling data.
  • World Press Freedom Index -- published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders, this index  ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists based on a survey asking about issues of pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.