Public Choice

, Volume 143, Issue 1–2, pp 67–101 | Cite as

Democracy and dictatorship revisited

  • José Antonio CheibubEmail author
  • Jennifer Gandhi
  • James Raymond Vreeland


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 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Antonio Cheibub
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Gandhi
    • 2
  • James Raymond Vreeland
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign ServiceGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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