Skip to main content

Polity Project

Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

African Development Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessments
African Economic Outlook
African Governance Report
Asian Barometer Survey
Asian Development Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessments
Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index
Bribe Payers Index
Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey
Business Freedom Component of Index of Economic Freedom
Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Dataset
CIVICUS Civil Society Index
Commitment to Development Index
Comparative Political Data Sets
Comparative Study of Electoral Systems
Compendium of Sustainable Development Indicator Initiatives
Correlates of War Project
Corruption Perceptions Index
Countries at the Crossroads
Country Risk Analyst
Cross-National Indicators of Liberal Democracy
Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive
Dataset of Labor Rights Violations
Democratic Electoral Systems Database
Dow Jones Sustainability World Index
Easterly and Devine Dataset
Economic Freedom of the World Index
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Transition Report
European Crime and Safety Survey
European Protest and Coercion Data
Failed States Index
Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index
Freedom In The World Report
Gallup World Poll
Gender-Based Development Indices
Global Accountability Project
Global Barometer Study
Global Database of Quotas for Women
Global Integrity Report
Global Peace Index
Human Development Index
IMF Government Finance Statistics
Index of African Governance
Index of Economic Freedom
Institutional Profiles Database
Inter-Parliamentary Union Databases
Media Sustainability Index
Nations in Transit Survey
Opacity Index
Political Terror Scale
Polity Project
Polyarchi Dataset
Press Freedom Index
Prosperity Index
Relative Political Capacity
Transatlantic Trends
UN Social Indicators
UN Surveys on Crime Trends
UN’s Country Assessment in Accountability and Transparency (CONTACT)
Uppsala Conflict Data Program
Urban Governance Index
Voter Turnout Database
Women's Indicators and Statistics Database
World Audit Annual Report
World Factbook
World Governance Assessment
World's Competitiveness Yearbook


Polity Project

Summary: The Polity Project is a data resource for studying different types of political regimes. It classifies the governing regimes of the world according to their commitment to democratic ideals, placing them on a scale with hereditary autocracies on one extreme and consolidated democracies on the other.   

Main Points: The Polity IV Project carries data collection and analysis through 2012 and is under the direction of Dr. Monty G. Marshall and supported by the Political Instability Task Force, Societal-Systems Research Inc, and Center for Systemic Peace.

The Polity project examines concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority in governing institutions. This perspective envisions a spectrum of governing authority that spans from fully institutionalized autocracies through mixed, or incoherent, authority regimes (termed "anocracies") to fully institutionalized democracies.

The "Polity Score" captures this regime authority spectrum on a 21-point scale ranging from -10 (hereditary monarchy) to +10 (consolidated democracy). The Polity scores can also be converted to regime categories: we recommend a three-part categorization of "autocracies" (-10 to -6), "anocracies" (-5 to +5 and the three special values: -66, -77, and -88), and "democracies" (+6 to +10).

The Polity scheme consists of six component measures that record key qualities of executive recruitment, constraints on executive authority, and political competition. It also records changes in the institutionalized qualities of governing authority. The Polity data include information only on the institutions of the central government and on political groups acting, or reacting, within the scope of that authority. It does not include consideration of groups and territories that are actively removed from that authority (i.e., separatists or "fragments"; these are considered separate, though not independent, polities) or segments of the population that are not yet effectively politicized in relation to central state politics. 

The Polity IV dataset covers all major, independent states in the global system (i.e., states with total population of 500,000 or more in the most recent year; currently 167 countries) over the period 1800-2012. It constantly monitors regime changes in all major countries and provides annual assessments of regime authority characteristics and regime changes and data updates. It is also the most closely scrutinized data series on political issues as analysts and experts in academia, policy, and the intelligence community regularly examine and often challenge Polity codings. Monitoring real-time events requires Polity analysts to make tentative assessments of the trajectories of unfolding political dynamics and their effect on the essential qualities of governing institutions, or patterns of authority. Recent annual Polity records are routinely re-examined during each annual update and may be revised in light of further information regarding institutional practice. In addition, historical cases are often re-examined, often as a result of questions raised by users and country experts, and may be refined in conformance with new information or the correction of errors in the records.

The Polity IV data resources and Country Report series are now hosted on the Center for Systemic Peace Web site. 

Access to database:

Source: Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2012, Monty G. Marshall (Societal-Systems Research Inc.), Ted Robert Gurr (University of Maryland)

Page Created By:  Madina Junussova. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance