Re-examining thresholds of continuous democracy measures

Yuko Kasuya, Kota Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars frequently dichotomize continuous measures of democracy by setting a regime cut-off. However, such cut-offs often lack theoretical or empirical justifications, making the resulting classifications difficult to interpret conceptually. We investigate this challenge involving three major continuous democracy measures: the Freedom House score (FH), the Polity score, and the Regime of the World (RoW) that is based on the V-Dem's Electoral Democracy Index (EDI). We develop a framework to empirically derive thresholds using categorical democracy measures as benchmarks. Our analyses find that the cut-offs that yield the highest consistency with the classifications of BMR, CGV, and GWF are 3.5 for FH, 5 for Polity and 0.39 for EDI/RoW. These levels are lower than the conventional cut-offs, implying less demanding democratic standards. Consequently, the conventional cut-offs (2.5 for FH, 6 for Polity and 0.5 for EDI/RoW) endeavour to reflect more stringent standards of democracy than what these dichotomous measures employ.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Democracy measures
  • Freedom House
  • polity
  • threshold
  • V-Dem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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