The Comparative Survey of Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions


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.

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Correspondence to Raymond Duncan Gastil.

Additional information

After receiving a degree in social science and Middle Eastern, Studies at Harvard University, Dr. Gastil taught anthropology and honors social science at the University of Oregon, For seven years he analyzed national security and other policy issues at Hudson Institute. Basic research at Battelle Seattle Research Center led to the publication ofCultural Regions of the United States, andSocial Humanities.: Toward an Integrative Discipline of Science and Values, as well as numerous scholarly articles. From 1977 to 1989, Dr. Gastil was director of the Comparative Survey of Freedom at Freedom House. In this capacity he wrote and produced an annual yearbook entitledFreedom in the World: Political Rights and Civil Liberties, and held conferences on supporting liberalization in the Soviet Union, Muslim Central Asia, China, and Eastern Europe, as well as on the problem of political participatin, in the United States.

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Gastil, R.D. The Comparative Survey of Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions. St Comp Int Dev 25, 25–50 (1990).

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  • Comparative International Development
  • Civil Liberty
  • Party System
  • Liberal Democratic Party
  • Checklist Item