Data Sources

The Better Place Index results are based on the analysis of data from the several sources. Figures on immigration came from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, and income tax-rates came from KPMG’s individual income tax rates. Figures on democracy was based on data provided by the non-partisan think tank Freedom House.

While not an ideal measure of an essentially contested concept like democracy (Collier, Hidalgo and Maciuceanu 2006), Freedom House is the most widely used measure of political pluralism in use (Högström 2013, See also Bollen 1986).

The data for provisions for citizen-initiated referendums is based on Morel (2017), with subsequent additional data from individual constitutions. The latter is based on a dummy-variable, with 0 when the country does not have provisions for citizen-initiated referendums and 1 when there are provisions for these.


Whether a country holds:

  1. Competitive, multiparty political system; if there is

  2. Adult suffrage for all citizens without criminal convictions (some states may further punish and subjugate people with criminal convictions by disenfranchising them from the democratic process). If ..

  3. These regularly contested elections are conducted in conditions of ballot secrecy, reasonable ballot security, and the absence of massive voter fraud that yields results that are unrepresentative of the public will; and

  4. If there is significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning.

Based on expert assessments, which can be criticised, for a country to be categorized as an electoral democracy, it must score seven or more out of twelve in political rights subcategory A (Electoral Progress), and have an overall aggregate score of 20 in their political rights rating and an overall aggregate score of 30 in their civil liberties rating. (Freedom House 2017)


We use Pearsons' Correlation coefficient (conventionally represented by ‘R’) to measure the association between variables and refine this through linear regression models.

The correlation coefficient is a measure of the statistical association between two variables. It is measured on a scale that varies from + 1 through 0 to - 1. A complete correlation between two variables is expressed by either + 1 or -1. When one variable increases as the other increases the correlation is positive; when one decreases as the other increases the statistical relationship is negative.

Conventionally a correlation of R<.50 (or -.50) is a very strong correlation, R < .30-49 is a medium correlation and R< .10-29 is a small correlation (Cohen 1988: 79-81).


This BPI May 2020 Study illustrates that application of the BPI model to given cases-in-point can evidence powerful correlations in real-world data.


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Bowler, S., & Donovan, T. (2006). Direct democracy and political parties in America. Party Politics, 12(5), 649-669.

Campanella, Tommaso (2008) [1602] The City of the Sun. Radford VA: Wilder Publications

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the social sciences 2nd Edition. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Collier, D., Daniel Hidalgo, F., & Olivia Maciuceanu, A. (2006). Essentially contested concepts: Debates and applications. Journal of political ideologies, 11(3), 211-246.

Durlauf, S. N. (2002) ‘On the empirics of social capital’ The Economic Journal, 112(483), 459-479.

Feld, L. P., & Matsusaka, J. G. (2003) ‘Budget referendums and government spending: evidence from Swiss cantons’ Journal of Public Economics, 87(12),2703-2724.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2015) Flüchtlinge könnten Wirtschaftswunder bringen, Accessed 28th April, 2020.

Freedom House,

Galbraith, John Kenneth (1996) The Good Society. The Humane Agenda. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company

Hamilton, A., Madison, J., & Jay, J. (2008). The Federalist Papers. Oxford University Press.

Hansard Society (2019) ‘Audit of Political Engagement’ Accessed 29th March, 2020.

Helms, L. J. (1985) ‘The Effect of State and Local Taxes on Economic Growth: A Time Series--Cross Section Approach’ The Review of Economics and Statistics, 574-582.

Högström, J. (2013) ‘Does the choice of democracy measure matter? Comparisons between the two leading democracy indices, Freedom House and Polity IV’. Government and Opposition, 48(2), 201-221.

James I and VI (1918) [1598] ‘The The Political Works of James I, reprinted from the edition of 1616 with an introduction by Charles Howard McIlwain (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918), pp. 53-70.

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Mill, John Stuart (2018) Autobiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Morel, L. (2017) ‘Types of referendums, provisions and practice at the national level worldwide’. In Morel, Laurence, and Matt

Qvortrup (eds) The Routledge handbook to referendums and direct democracy. London: Routledge, 27-59.

Rawls, John (1999) A Theory of Justice. (Revised Edition.) Harvard University Press.

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A. Keyser (Editors) Governance Indicators: Approaches, Progress, Promise. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 134-153, at.137

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Qvortrup, M. (2017). The rise of referendums: Demystifying direct democracy. Journal of Democracy, 28(3), 141-152.

Runciman, D. (2018) How Democracy Ends. London: Profile Books

Tocqueville, A. (2003). Democracy in America: and Two essays on America. Penguin UK.

Weber, M. (1976). The Protestant work ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Allen and Unwin.

Reference [click down chevron to show] topical reading and booklist recommended by and associated with The Better Place Index