Political Constraint Index Dataset

Research project

The Political Constraint Index Dataset (POLCON) was produced by Witold J. Henisz, and is an endeavour to measure political constraint, that is, to identify underlying political structures and measure their ability to support credible policy commitments.


Political Constraint Index Dataset (POLCON)



Political Constraint Index Dataset


Excel, dBase




226 countries

Last reviewed


Data types and sources

Expert coding by the author, based on sources from datasets such as Polity IV, the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive and others.

Data download



The dataset contains 90 variables (including country identifiers) that measure various features of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The central variables are indices that seek to estimate the degree of political constraints.

Geographical coverage

The dataset covers 226 present and historical countries.

Time coverage and updates

First data for some of the variables are from 1800. Last data is up to 2007. The dataset was last updated in 2010.


A codebook (Henisz 2006) providing detailed descriptions of how the variables were coded and which sources were used is available online.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge. Registration required.

Access procedures

Predefined table.

Data formats

Excel and Microsoft Access.

Comparability and data quality

Not examined.


Henisz, Witold J. 2000. “The institutional environment for economic growth”. Economics and Politics 12 (1): 1-31.

Henisz, Witold J. 2002. “The institutional environment for infrastructure investment”. Industrial and Corporate Change 11 (2): 355-389.

Henisz, Witold J. 2006. Polcon_2005 Codebook.
http://www-management.wharton.upenn.edu/henisz/ (11 April 2007).