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Constraining Governments: New indices of vertical, horizontal and diagonal accountability

Working paper
Authors Anna Lührmann
Kyle L. Marquardt
Valeriya Mechkova
Publisher University of Gothenburg, Varieties of Democracy Institute: Working Paper No. 46. April 2017
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Political Science
V-Dem Institute
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


Accountability - constraints on the government’s use of political power - is one of the cornerstones of good governance. However, conceptual stretching and a lack of reliable measures have limited cross-national research and comparisons regarding the role of both accountability writ large and its different sub-types. To address this research gap, we use the V-Dem dataset and Bayesian statistical models to develop new ways to conceptualize and measure accountability and its core dimensions. We provide indices capturing the extent to which governments are accountable to citizens (vertical accountability), other state institutions (horizontal accountability) and the media and civil society (diagonal accountability), as well as an aggregate index that incorporates the three sub-types. These indices cover virtually all countries from 1900 to today. We demonstrate the validity of our new measures by analyzing trends from key countries, as well as by demonstrating that the measures are positively related to development outcomes such as health and education.

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