Afrobarometer Round 4: The Quality of Democracy and Governance in 20 African Countries, 2008-2009 (ICPSR 33701)

Published: Sep 13, 2012

Principal Investigator(s):
Michael Bratton, Michigan State University; E. Gyimah-Boadi, Ghana Center for Democratic Development; Robert Mattes, University of Cape Town


Version V1

The Afrobarometer project was designed to assess attitudes toward democracy, governance, economic reform, quality of life, and civil society in several Sub-Saharan African nations, and to track the evolution of such attitudes in those nations over time. This particular survey was concerned with the attitudes and opinions of the citizens of 20 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Respondents in a face-to-face interview were asked to rate their presidents and the presidents' administration's overall performance, to state the most important issues facing their nation, and to evaluate the effectiveness of certain continental and international institutions. Opinions were gathered on the role of the government in improving the economy, whether corruption existed in local and national government, whether government officials were responsive to problems of the general population, and whether local government officials, the police, the courts, the overall criminal justice system, the media, the National Electoral Commission, and the government broadcasting service could be trusted. Respondents were polled on their knowledge of the government, including the identification of government officials, their level of personal involvement in political, governmental, and community affairs, their participation in national elections, the inclusiveness of the government, and the identification of causes of conflict and resources which may aid in the resolution of conflict. Economic questions addressed the past, present, and future of the country's and the respondent's economic condition, and whether great income disparities were fair. Societal questions were asked of respondents concerning the meaning of being "poor" and "rich", monetary support systems, personal responsibility for success or failure, characteristics used in self-identification, methods for securing food, water, schooling, medical services, news and information, the ease of obtaining assistance for certain services, and whether problems existed with school and the local public clinic or hospital. Background variables include age, gender, ethnicity, education, religious affiliation and participation, political party affiliation, language spoken most at home, whether the respondent was the head of household, current and past employment status, whether a close friend or relative had died from AIDS, language used in interview, and type of physical disability, if any. In addition, demographic information pertaining to the interviewer is provided, as well as their response to the interview and their observations of the respondent's attitude during the interview and of the interview environment.

Bratton, Michael, Gyimah-Boadi, E., and Mattes, Robert. Afrobarometer Round 4: The Quality of Democracy and Governance in 20 African Countries, 2008-2009. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-09-13.

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United States Agency for International Development

Danish International Development Agency

Canadian International Development Agency

Department for International Development (United Kingdom)

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency


2008-01 -- 2008-12

2008-01 -- 2008-12

Additional information about the Afrobarometer Survey can be found at the Afrobarometer Web site.

Some open-end responses (for variables Q41A1, Q41B1, and Q88e) in the data file are only available in a non-English language specific to that country (e.g., French, Portuguese, etc.).

The codebook and the setup files for this collection contain characters with diacritical marks used in many African languages.

The sample is designed as a representative cross-section of all citizens of voting age in a given country. The goal is to give every adult citizen an equal and known chance of selection for interview. This objective was reached by (a) strictly applying random selection methods at every stage of sampling, and by (b) applying sampling with probability proportionate to population size wherever possible. A randomly selected sample of 1,200 cases allows inferences to national adult populations with a margin of sampling error of no more than plus or minus 2.8 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent. If the sample size is increased to 2,400, the margin of sampling error shrinks to plus or minus 2 percent.


All adult citizens of voting age residing in 20 African nations.


survey data

face-to-face interview

80 percent



2012-09-13 Updated the study to be consistent with standards of the Round 4 Afrobarometer datasets.

2012-04-13 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Please review the ICPSR codebook for information with regard to weighting.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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