Judicial Checks and Balances

Research project

The dataset was compiled by Rafael La Porta and associates and contains data on the judicial systems in various countries. The dataset was used in a study that examined the relationship between two key aspects of the judiciary – judicial independence and constitutional review – and the degree of political and economic freedom. The results of the study were published in La Porta et al. (2004).


Judicial Checks and Balances Data

Judicial Checks and Balances


Judicial Checks and Balances




See below


71 countries

Last reviewed


Data types and sources

Expert-coded data based on national constitutions and secondary sources.

Data download

Judicial Checks and Balances


The dataset contains 34 variables. The key indicators measure various aspects of judicial systems, in particular the degree of judicial independence and constitutional review. In addition, the dataset contains indicators of political and economic freedom, ethnolinguistic fractionalisation and economic wealth. Some of the variables were coded by the producers of the dataset, but the majority are reproduced from other sources.

Geographical coverage

The dataset covers 71 countries.

Time coverage and updates

The dataset contains only one entry for each country on each variable. Since the character of a country’s judiciary does not change rapidly, the judicial variables describe more or less permanent features of judicial systems, rather than the situation during a particular year. Frequency of updates not stated.


All variables are described in brief in La Porta et al. (2004) as well as in the online variable description.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge.

Access procedures

Predefined table.

Data formats


Comparability and data quality

Not examined.


La Porta, Rafael, Florencio López-de-Silanes, Cristian Pop-Eleches and Andrei Shleifer. 2004. “Judicial checks and balances”. Journal of Political Economy 112 (April): 445-470.