by David L. Richards and Jillienne Haglund
Read the article in The Washington Post >
Listen to the interview with David L. Richards, Ph.D.
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In August of 2013, Ann Marie Clark and Kathryn Sikkink published “Information Effects and Human Rights Data: Is the Good News about Increased Human Rights Information Bad News for Human Rights Measures?” in Human Rights Quarterly. Their article examines important issues related to indicators of government respect for physical integrity rights from the Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project as well as the Political Terror Scale (PTS) index of physical integrity conditions. Using a data set about Latin America and the case examples of Brazil and Guatemala, they make an argument that an increased amount of information over time in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, as evidenced by growing word counts, is responsible for a downward bias in scores indicating government respect for human rights over time. In this article, I use a data set containing word counts of US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reports, as well as the CIRI Human Rights Data, to empirically address the viability of some of Clark and Sikkink’s core arguments. I find the assumption that CIRI scores are declining in recent years, the conclusion that longer State Department reports have a substantive role in these lower scores, and the argument that changing standards affected the CIRI time series data, to be suspect.
A copy can be accessed [HERE]