Centripetal Democratic Governance

Research project

The Centripetal Democratic Governance dataset was compiled by John Gerring, Strom Thacker and Carola Moreno for a study that examined various political institutions’ impact on the quality of governance. The results were published in Gerring, Thacker and Moreno (2005).


Centripetal Democratic Governance

Centripetal Democratic Governance


Centripetal Democratic Governance


Excel, Stata, txt




225 countries

Last reviewed


Data types and sources

Most of the political variables were coded by the producers of the dataset. The dataset also contains some variables based on national accounts, official registers and surveys.

Data download

Centripetal Democratic Governance


The dataset consists of 42 variables. The core of the dataset is constituted by a set of political variables measuring the degree to which government institutions centralise power. In addition, the dataset contains social and economic variables and measures of bureaucratic quality, most of which are reproduced from other sources.

Geographical coverage

The dataset covers 225 countries, but many of the political variables are only available for countries that surpass a minimum threshold of democracy.

Time coverage and updates

Years covered: 1960-2001. An updated and revised version of the data was released in 2008, in connection with the release of the book “A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance” (Gerring & Thacker, 2008). In addition to the inclusion of new and revised variables, it also contained extended time-series for several countries (2005).


Short variable definitions and sources are available in an Excel file, which also contains the actual data. The political variables constructed by the producers of the dataset are described in Gerring, Thacker and Moreno (2005), but not in sufficient detail to allow independent researchers to reproduce the results. Users must consult the original sources to get detailed information about the variables reproduced from other datasets.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge.

Access procedures

Predefined table. The entire dataset can be downloaded in a single file, organised in country-year format.

Data formats

Excel, Stata and txt.

Comparability and data quality

Measuring governance (or “good governance”) involves, as the creators of the data are explicitly aware of, complexity. Hellwig (2009) points out that the data invites skepticisms, and asks whether centripetalism is adequately represented in the selection of data. In addition, he asks whether the variables intended to measure quality of government captures relevant aspects of government, as they tend to include not only political processes, policies and outcomes, but economic and humanitarian ones as well, adding further to the complexity (Hellwig, 2009).

However, the criticism should not detract from the utility of the data. Parts of the data may be considered selective and imperfect, but it is a fine place to start for researchers who work toward refinements and reassessments of the empirical grounds of political institutions and governance.


Gerring, J., Thacker, S.C. and Moreno, C. 2005. “Centripetal democratic governance: a theory of global inquiry”. American Political Science Review 99 (November): 567-581.

Gerring, J., Thacker, S.C. 2005. “A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance”. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hellwig, T., 2009. "Book Review: Gerring, J., & Thacker, S. C. (2008). A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance". Comparative Political Studies, 42: 998-1001.