Studies In Comparative International Development

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 25–50

The Comparative Survey of Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions


  • Raymond Duncan Gastil
On Measuring Democracy

DOI: 10.1007/BF02716904

Cite this article as:
Gastil, R.D. St Comp Int Dev (1990) 25: 25. doi:10.1007/BF02716904


The article describes the Comparative Survey of Freedom, produced from 1975 to 1989 in article form, and from 1978 to 1989 in book form as well. The survey rates annually all independent states and dependent territories. It is a loose, intuitive rating system for levels of freedom or democracy, as defined by the traditional political rights and civil liberties of the Western democracies. The checklists used for political rights and civil liberties are discussed point by point. Although open to criticism, the ratings are quite similar to those produced by other analysts from different perspectives during this time period., Unlike other studies, the survey's regular production provides a useful and consistent time series. Democracy is a moving target. Extensions of the survey in, time or levels of discrimination would force the investigator to address a variety of new and difficult problems in comparability that are not faced by the survey in its present form.

Copyright information

© Springer 1990