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Introducing the Historical Varieties of Democracy Dataset: Political Institutions in the Long 19th Century

Working paper
Authors Carl Henrik Knutsen
Jan Teorell
Agnes Cornell
John Gerring
Haakon Gjerløw
Svend-Erik Skaaning
Tore Wig
Daniel Ziblatt
Kyle L. Marquardt
Daniel Pemstein
Brigitte Seim
Publisher V-Dem Working Paper No. 65. University of Gothenburg: Varieties of Democracy Institute.
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
V-Dem Institute
Language en
Subject categories Political Science


The Historical Varieties of Democracy Dataset (Historical V-Dem) is a new dataset containing about 260 indicators, both factual and evaluative, describing various aspects of political regimes and state institutions. The dataset covers 91 polities globally – including most large, sovereign states, as well as some semi-sovereign entities and large colonies – from 1789 to 1920 for many cases. The majority of the indicators are also included in the Varieties of Democracy dataset, which covers the period from 1900 to the present – and together these two datasets cover the bulk of “modern history”. Historical V-Dem also includes several new indicators, covering features that are pertinent for 19th century polities. We describe the data, the process of coding, and the different strategies employed in Historical V-Dem to cope with issues of reliability and validity and ensure inter-temporal- and cross-country comparability. To illustrate the potential uses of the dataset we provide a descriptive account of patterns of democratization in the “long 19th century.” Finally, we perform an empirical investigation of how inter-state war relates to subsequent democratization.

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