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Classifying political regimes in Latin America, 1945-1999

Mainwaring, S and Brinks, D and Pérez-Linán, A (2001) Classifying political regimes in Latin America, 1945-1999. Studies in Comparative International Development, 36 (1). 37 - 65. ISSN 0039-3606

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This article is about how political regimes should generally be classified, and how Latin American regimes should be classified for the 1945-99 period. We make five general claims about regime classification. First, regime classification should rest on sound concepts and definitions. Second, it should be based on explicit and sensible coding and aggregation rules. Third, it necessarily involves some subjective judgments. Fourth, the debate about dichotomous versus continuous measures of democracy creates a false dilemma. Neither democratic theory, nor coding requirements, nor the reality underlying democratic practice compel either a dichotomous or a continuous approach in all cases. Fifth, dichotomous measures of democracy fail to capture intermediate regime types, obscuring variation that is essential for studying political regimes. This general discussion provides the grounding for our trichotomous ordinal scale, which codes regimes as democratic, semi-democratic or authoritarian in nineteen Latin American countries from 1945 to 1999. Our trichotomous classification achieves greater differentiation than dichotomous classification and yet avoids the need for massive information that a very fine-grained measure would require.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mainwaring, S
Brinks, D
Pérez-Linán, A
Date: 1 January 2001
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in Comparative International Development
Volume: 36
Number: 1
Page Range: 37 - 65
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/bf02687584
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0039-3606
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 20:42
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:57


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