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Polity Data: Persistence and Change in Political Systems, 1800-1971 (ICPSR 5010)

Principal Investigator(s): Gurr, Ted Robert; Gurr, Erika


This data collection consists of coded descriptions of the political structures of 144 countries worldwide (428 polities) in the period 1800-1971. One of four distinct but related datasets developed by Robert Gurr and his associates at Princeton University and Northwestern University to test hypotheses about the causes of conflict within contemporary nations and the correlates of institutional change, this study probes why some political institutions perform well and persist in response to challenges and crises while others change abruptly. Operational conceptualization of the study is provided with the description of salient characteristics of political systems in terms of the dimensions of authority patterns. Included are indicators of dimensions of authority, such as the openness of recruitment, decision constraints, participation, directiveness, and complexity, the degree to which each polity was autocratic, democratic, and anocratic, and the dichotomous indicator of coherence of a polity as consistently democratic. Additional data provide information on the circumstances of the birth and death of a polity, including the character of the polity and reasons for its termination. Three related studies focus on civil conflicts in polities: CONFLICT AND SOCIETY (ICPSR 7452), CIVIL STRIFE EVENTS, 1955-1970 (ICPSR 7531), and CIVIL STRIFE CONFLICT MAGNITUDES, 1955-1970 (ICPSR 7485).

Access Notes

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Study Description


Gurr, Ted Robert, and Erika Gurr. Polity Data: Persistence and Change in Political Systems, 1800-1971. ICPSR05010-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-01-29. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR05010.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR05010.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    civil disorders, government, government crises, internal political conflict, nineteenth century, political change, political participation, political systems, social change, twentieth century

Geographic Coverage:    Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China (Peoples Republic), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gabon, Georgia (Republic), Germany, Ghana, Global, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Northern Ireland, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Prussia, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Soviet Union, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam (Socialist Republic), Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia

Time Period:   

  • 1800--1971

Universe:    A total of 144 nations, most of which were members of the international system between 1817 and 1940.

Data Type(s):    aggregate data


Data Source:

(1) STATESMAN'S YEARBOOK, (2) ANNUAL REGISTER, (3) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD HISTORY, (4) Banks, Arthur S., and Robert B. Textor. A CROSS POLITY SURVEY. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1963, and (5) Banks, Arthur S., and Robert B. Textor. CROSS POLITY SURVEY, 1963 (ICPSR 5004)


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-10

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