Public Choice

, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 67-101

First online:

Democracy and dictatorship revisited

  • José Antonio CheibubAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Email author 
  • , Jennifer GandhiAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Emory University
  • , James Raymond VreelandAffiliated withEdmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

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We address the strengths and weaknesses of the main available measures of political regime and extend the dichotomous regime classification first introduced in Alvarez et al. (Stud. Comp. Int. Dev. 31(2):3–36, 1996). This extension focuses on how incumbents are removed from office. We argue that differences across regime measures must be taken seriously and that they should be evaluated in terms of whether they (1) serve to address important research questions, (2) can be interpreted meaningfully, and (3) are reproducible. We argue that existing measures of democracy are not interchangeable and that the choice of measure should be guided by its theoretical and empirical underpinnings. We show that the choice of regime measure matters by replicating studies published in leading journals.


Political regimes Democracy Dictatorship Measurement