Until recently, researchers who wanted to examine the determinants of state respect for most specific negative rights (i.e., physical integrity and empowerment rights) needed to rely on data from the CIRI or the Political Terror Scale (PTS). The new Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset offers scholars a potential alternative to the individual human rights variables from CIRI. We analyze a set of key Cingranelli–Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project and V-Dem negative rights indicators, finding unusual and unexpectedly large patterns of disagreement between the two sets. First, we discuss the new V-Dem dataset by comparing it to the disaggregated CIRI indicators, discussing the history of each project, and describing its empirical domain. Second, we identify a set of disaggregated human rights measures that are similar across the two datasets and discuss each project’s measurement approach. Third, we examine how these measures compare to each other empirically, showing that they diverge considerably across both time and space. These findings point to several important directions for future work, such as how conceptual approaches and measurement strategies affect rights scores. For the time being, our findings suggest that researchers should think carefully about using the measures as substitutes.
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