Measuring Effective Democracy: The Human Empowerment Approach

Research output: Working paperWorking papers


The core idea inspiring democracy is to empower people. To measure democracy in ways that capture its empowering nature one must focus on popular rights and take into account rule of law as a state quality that makes these rights effective. Based on this premise, we portray an index of “effective democracy” and test its qualities against six alternative indicators of democracy for some 150 states. We find the index of effective democracy to best represent the empowering nature of democracy because it most clearly captures democracy’s embedding in empowering conditions in the wider society. Specifically, effective democracy is shown to be most firmly embedded in (a) empowering socioeconomic conditions that make people capable of practicing democracy and (b) in empowering sociocultural conditions that make them willing to do so. In light of these findings, people empowerment appears to be a unity of empowering societal conditions and empowering regime characteristics, the latter of which are best depicted by the index of effective democracy.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherWorld Values Survey Association
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes