The Spatial and Temporal Diffusion of Democracy, 1815-1995

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Institute of Behavioral Science
Program on Political and Economic Change
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0487
Phone: (303) 492 6404 Facsimile: (303) 492 3609

The Spatial and Temporal Diffusion of Democracy is an NSF--Sponsored program using leading--edge techniques to uncover the relationships between democracy and conflict. In order to understand the techniques used in this research, one must be familiar with the different data sources we have used. These data fall roughly into two categories: descriptive and events. The former are the typical cross--sectional data that are familiar to many-objective measures such as macroeconomic figures and trade flows, and subjective data such as level of democracy or autocracy. In addition, we use several well-known events data series, including those on conflict and cooperation and military interventions.

This research provides one cornerstone for the Globalization and Democratization Graduate Training Fellowship Program, located at the University of Colorado's Institute of Behavioral Science Political and Economic Change Program. This program is also sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the University of Colorado Graduate School.


This Power Point Presentation provides a slide show with an overview of the project and some of its major findings as of May 1998. This was prepared for the Coalition for National Science Funding's 4th Annual Exhibition and Reception, May 20, 1998, Rayburn House Office Building, where this project was highlighted by the American Polical Science Association.

Project papers

Working papers and project publications are provided in Postscript or Acrobat formats. Two simple options for viewing these documents on most operating systems are:

Acrobat reader


The diffusion of democracy, 1946-94 is a recent paper from the project which appeared in the December 1998 issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Click here to download an acrobat version of the paper. This piece is on the spatial diffusion of democracy, and presents an exploratory spatial data analysis of the diffusion of democracy, and develops several new statistical approaches to a temporally-oriented, spatial correlation analysis. This file is large, but worth the wait!
Kristian S. Gleditsch & Michael D. Ward. "Democratization and War in the Context of Time and Space." This is an updated analysis which re-examines the claims made in the M.D. Ward & K.S. Gleditsch 1998 APSR article (see below), but extends them to account for spatial as well as temporal variation.
Democratizing for Peace (Ward & Gleditsch, APSR 1998) is available in the penultimate version that existed prior to publication. This article shows that reversals from democracy back toward autoritarian forms of government in newly emerging democracies is associated with interstate war. Moverments toward democracy are peace enhancing.
Kristian S. Gleditsch & Michael D. Ward. Double Take: Reexamining Democracy and Autocracy in Modern Polities (JCR, 1997). This article examines the theoretical and empircal characteristics of the POLITY data often used to measure democratization. We show how the analytical composition of the democracy and autocracy indexes are not upheld by an empirical examination of their components. We find that democracy fundamentally reflects constraints on the chief executive. This an earlier version of the JCR rticle, available in Adobe Acrobat.
Some first-cut analyses of the spatial and temporal diffusion of democracy were presented at the International Studies Association Annual Meeting in April 1996. Click here to download a zipped archive with the paper in different formats. Unzipped postscript and acrobat versions are also available.


Be forewarned these files are large and won't necessarily work on every operating system.

This map informs our project and motivates our research. How and why has democracy spread?
We also do Windows, er ..., Movies. Here is an animation of the spread of democracy since the end of the Second World War
This Shockwave Flash animation shows the diffusion of democracy and autocracy from 1946-1994 (note: the movie by default starts in loop mode. Uncheck this option under the control menu.)
A previous version of the movie is available in QuickTime and avi formats (zipped version of the moivie in QuickTime and avi files are also available. These are recommended if you have slow connection.



R. Rummel's democide page at the University of Hawaii

The POLITY project data archive

Return to the Globalization and Democracy home page.

updated: 26 September May 1999