Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is an ambitious new effort to produce hundreds of indicators about political regimes for all countries and colonies in the world from 1900 to the present. Most of the coding is done by nationals of, or residents in, the countries they code, using globally shared standards for various types of democracy. It is not intended to substitute for nuanced area expertise, but V-Dem data are designed to give its intended users--researchers, policymakers, NGOs, journalists, and students--a way to quickly identify political trends for any country an place them in historical and comparative perspective. Michael Coppedge, one of the V-Dem principal investigators, will show what a non-specialist (his area expertise is in Latin America) might glean from such data using V-Dem's pilot study data on Burma/Myanmar as an illustration.
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