Friday, June 27, 2014

A New Democracy Index

I created an index of my own I haven't published after not being fully satisfied with any democracy/liberty index based primarily in social issues anywhere, and made it based on several existing indexes and easily measured features. The biggest problem I see with human rights indexes is they usually measure only one variable, when there are many different aspects that go into determining whether a country is truly free or not. I looked at government policies in 8 benchmark ways that are concrete, and weighted all 8 equally on a scale of 0-5 (it was an arbitrary decision to choose 5 but I found I could get enough differences in each policy where 5 works nicely, I also start at 0 as opposed to 1 because it makes a difference in the math). The indexes are Freedom of the Press standardized to the same scale from Reporters Without Borders, gave a score of 0-5 for religious freedom based on official government policies, 0-5 on access to healthcare, 0-5 on gay rights policies, 0-5 on access to courts and their quality, 0-5 on women's rights from The Daily Beast, 0-5 for the quality of elections and their methods, and 0-5 for visas rewarding countries for having more open borders through lower visa requirements. This is going to be a major judge for me determining whether the country is free or not and will be my judge for high-quality leaders. The way I ranked didn't take into account whether the potential violations are for citizens or non-citizens which hurt the United States in particular.

All of these indexes can have ties and if every country improved to have full freedom of the press, absolute freedom of religion, complete access to health care, full equality for gays, court systems that have no barriers and are completely free, fair and impartial for all people citizen or non-citizen, women have full equality to men, they use Single Transferable Vote and/or Instant Runoff voting for their elections, and all foreigners can freely travel to their country.

Leading with a score of 4.436 is Sweden, their worst score is on visas, and their women's rights score is a 4.96 out of a possible 5. The top 25 are the following:
  1. Sweden, at 4.436 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  2. Denmark, at 4.425 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  3. Finland, at 4.414 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  4. Norway, at 4.404 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  5. Netherlands, at 4.381 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  6. Ireland, at 4.339 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas. They don't have gay marriage, which is hurting them severely. Gay marriage will give them first place. They use single transferable vote which is the least error prone of all election methods which moves them from #15 to # 6.
  7. Belgium, at 4.325 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  8. Portugal, at 4.312 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  9. New Zealand, at 4.306 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas.
  10. France, at 4.284 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas, their freedom of the press is 3.92 which is hurting them.
  11. Switzerland, at 4.261 has 3 5s, their worst score is visas. They don't have gay marriage, which is hurting them severely.
  12. Luxembourg, at 4.251 has 3 5s, their worst score is visas. They don't have gay marriage, which is hurting them severely.
  13. Spain, at 4.242 has 4 5s, their worst score is visas. Their press score is hurting them at a 3.98.
  14. Andorra, at 4.236 has 3 5s, women's rights are missing data, visas are their worst score. Gay rights are limited.
  15. Uruguay, the highest ranked country in the Western Hemisphere at 4.219, has 4 5s, and their worst score is visas.
  16. Germany, at 4.206 has 3 5s, their worst score is visas, and gay rights are hurting them.
  17. Iceland, at 4.196 has 5 5s, they rank number one on women's rights, their election system is killing their score, and their worst score is visas.
  18. Slovenia, at 4.147 has 3 5s, their worst score is visas, gay rights are lacking, and press is below a 4.
  19. Czech Republic, at 4.140 has 3 5s, their worst score is visas, women's rights is below a 4, and gay rights are hurting them.
  20. Costa Rica, at 4.102 has 3 5s, their gay rights are hurting them, and visas are their worst score.
  21. Malta, at 4.094 has 4 5s, their elections are the best, gay rights are lacking, visas are their worst score. Their press is below a 4.
  22. Liechtenstein, at 4.089 has 3 5s, lacking data on women's rights, their visas are their worst score.
  23. Estonia, at 4.088 has 3 5s, gay rights are lacking, their worst score is visas.
  24. Australia, at 4.084 has 4 5s, gay rights are lacking, their worst score by far is their very conservative visa policy.
  25. United Kingdom, at 4.081 has 4 5s with the recent passage of gay marriage, their elections are their worst score. They have better visa policies than the rest of the EU.
(When I say gay rights are lacking I mean they don't have full equality, they are all doing way better than every country in the middle east.)

The losers of the Democracy index are the following:
  1. North Korea in dead last at 201st placewith a score of 0.401, with 0s in 5 categories, and their highest score is a 2 on health care which signifies limited access. A living hell.
  2. Sudan, with a score of 0.607 has a press score above a 1 which keeps them from beating North Korea. 3 0s.
  3. Syria, with a score of 0.623 with a women's rights score of 2.29 which is over twice that of their other score above a one. 4 0s.
  4. Eritrea, with a score of 0.629 with 3 0s, is another country I would qualify as a living hell, only their women's rights score keeps them from falling below North Korea.
  5. Yemen, with a score of 0.643 with 4 0s, has an election score of 2 that keeps them out of 200th place, instead they're at 197th.
  6. Oman, with a score of 0.698 with 5 0s, has freedom of the press ans women's rights keep them slightly elevated.
  7. Turkmenistan, with a score of 0.980 with 3 0s, has a relatively high women's rights index.
  8. Saudi Arabia, with a score of 1.132 with 4 0s, has universal health care which significantly elevates their score.
  9. Nigeria, with a score of  1.146 has only 2 0s, but has a poor visa score, and their press score is their highest at 3.29.
  10. Pakistan, with a score of 1.210 has 2 0s, has health care a their highest score at a 3, but poor human rights scores in other ways along with a poor election score with an electoral college.
  11. Uzbekistan, with a score of 1.254 has 3 0s, no freedom of religion, the only reason they have such a high score is their health care and women's rights.
  12. Burma (political statement intended), with a score of 1.592 has 1 0  but their highest score is women's rights at 3.33 and have poor elections.
  13. Afghanistan, with a score of 1.319 has 2 0s, their elections are high quality, and their press score is over 3, but with poor freedom of religion, women's rights and health care keeps them at a low score.
  14. Somalia, with a score of 1.464 has 2 0s, their elections have a high score, but everything else is poor. They have a gay rights score of 2.
  15. Chad, with a score of 1.505 has 3 0s, their women's rights visas, gay rights, and health care are abysmal. They have a relatively high press score.
  16. Vietnam, with a score of 1.530 has only 1 0 in the election department, have a relatively high women's rights score but everything else is lagging. Gay rights is 3.
  17. Mauritania, with a score of 1.760 has 2 0s in Gay rights and visas which hurts it significantly. It has a good election score however.
  18. China, has a score of 1.709 due to poor visa policies, horrible court systems, non-existent elections, and lagging freedom of the press. Women's rights and health care rank well.
  19. Bangladesh, with a score of 1.715 lags on visas and has low scores across the board. Their highest ranking is in elections.
  20. Iran, with a score of 1.747 has 2 0s in gay rights and justice, has a better election score than they would have had prior to the last election, and have a low religion score.
  21. Bahrain, with a score of 1.763 has 0s in gay rights and justice
  22. Kiribati
  23. Cuba
  24. Comoros
These are the winners and losers in the democracy race. Other notable countries are:
  • The United States ranks at 92 out of 200 with a score of 3.076 due to the Electoral College, lack of access to courts for non-citizens, and one of the most restrictive visa policies in the world with only one truly non-visa country being Canada. I do not count the "Visa-Waiver Countries" because they require pre-registration and a fine which by my very narrow definition makes them count as a visa (and the countries that have a so-called visa waiver have a higher bar than some foreign visas, so they are a visa for simplicity sake), and are more restrictive than the so-called visas of many other countries, which is why the US has a low score. Our gay rights are currently lacking as well. I gave us a 5 in health care since everyone is required to have access.
  • Brazil ranks at 60 with a score of 3.466 due to poor health care, a lacking visa score, lacking justice, and lagging women's rights.
  • India (who I am thinking of as the giant in the Diplomatic room given their potential for economic growth and international influence in the near future) comes in at 143 with a score of 2.348, have court problems, an electoral college, an average press score and a restrictive visa policy. There is a lot of room for improvement.
I think this is a much more useful tool because it is calculated, measures very fine differences between countries, pulls from reputable sources, and most importantly is across a wide variety of issues which corrects for bias and fixes the problem that a country could have excellent freedom of the press, but poor gay rights which hurts Jamaica a lot. I hope this type of index can be used by political scientists in the future to give politicians the tools they need to see how they are doing compared to other countries, and give more accurate pictures on how free countries are. I am currently in the process of updating with information on slavery and privacy rights, which will make an even more accurate picture, especially when it comes to privacy, but given how this work could take me months to get accurate data I will publish now.

Feel free to view my work at: here:

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