Freedom House is a Washington-based non-governmental organisation established in 1941 to promote democracy around the globe. The organisation has since 1973 published the Comparative Survey of Freedom, which rates the level of democracy or freedom in all independent states and some disputed and dependent territories. Freedom House also conducts annual surveys on global media freedom, European and Eurasian nations in transition towards democracy, in-depth analyses of selected countries believed to be at a crossroad of their political development, as well as special reports focusing on particular fields or territories of interest.
- Freedom in the World Yearly publication which measures freedom in countries and territories according to two broad categories political rights and civil liberties.
- Freedom of the Press Yearly publication which measures media freedom in countries and territories.
- Nations in Transit A comparative, multidimensional study measuring progress and setbacks in democratisation in 29 countries from central Europe to the Eurasian region of the former Soviet Union.
Freedom of the Press
PDF, On-screen tables, Excel
Data types and sources
Expert coding. The sources include information from correspondents, staff and consultant travel, international visitors, the findings of human rights and press freedom organisations, specialists in geographic and geopolitical areas, the reports of governments and multilateral bodies, and a variety of domestic and international news media (Freedom House 2009).
The survey measures the level of freedom for the media in a country or territory. Countries are given a score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst), and are ranked as free, partly free or not free accordingly.
The 2011 edition covers 205 (present and historical) countries and territories.
Time coverage and updates
The country ranking of free, partly free and not free covers the time period from 1980 onwards. The numerical scale 0-100 was introduced in 1994. Updated annually.
The methodology of the survey is described in the online edition of Freedom in the Press and in a downloadable PDF-file. In addition the site provides an overview essay which gives an introduction to the 2011-edition, and a draft report that gives analytical narrative explanations for the country scores. The methodology only lists a general overview of the sources and the checklist-questions used to construct the index. Detailed coding rules are not provided.
Access conditions and cost
Available free of charge.
PDF and on-screen tables. Historical data (1980-2008) is available in PDF and Excel-format.
Comparability and data quality
See J. Becker (2003) and L. Becker, Vlad and Nusser (2007) for evaluations.
Becker, John. 2003. “Keeping track of press freedom”. European Journal of Communication 18 (1):107-112.
Becker, Lee B., Tudor Vlad and Nancy Nusser. 2007. “An evaluation of press freedomindicators”. International Communication Gazette 69 (1): 5-28.
Gastil, Raymond Duncan. 1991. “The Comparative Survey of Freedom: experiences and suggestions”. In On Measuring Democracy: Its Consequences and Concomitants, ed. Alex Inkles. NewBrunswick and London: Transaction.
Munck, Gerardo L., and Jay Verkuilen. 2002. “Conceptualizing and measuring democracy:evaluating alternative indices”. Comparative Political Studies 35 (February): 5-34.
Rydland, Lars Tore, Sveinung Arnesen and Åse Gilje Østensen. 2008. Contextual data for the European Social Survey. An Overview and assessment of extant resources. NSD Report No.124, Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD).