This file contains measures from the ARDA’s coding of the 2003 U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Reports. This coding produced data on 196 different countries and territories (see Grim and Finke 2006 for list of countries coded), but excluded the United States. It also includes three indexes calculated from these data: Government Regulation of Religion index (GRI), Social Regulation of Religion index (SRI), Government Favoritism of Religion index (GFI) (see Grim and Finke, 2006). The ARDA also coded International Religious Freedom Reports for the years 2001 and 2005. All three years of data (2001, 2003, and 2005) are aggregated into a single dataset, International Religious Freedom Data, Aggregate File, which we recommend as the best data to use for most statistical models.
- Data File
- Cases: 196
Weight Variable: None
- Data Collection
- Date Collected: December 2002 - February 2004
- Funded By
- The John Templeton Foundation
- Collection Procedures
- Each year (since 1999) the U.S. State Department releases International Religious Freedom Reports on approximately 196 countries or territories. Based on the text in these reports, ARDA researchers systematically coded the measures included in this file. Under the direction of Brian Grim, the ARDA’s Project Manager for International Data during the coding, these reports were assigned quantitative measures by using a coding instrument, essentially a survey questionnaire. Although the immediate goal was to develop measures for religious regulation and favoritism, the questions included measures for specific acts of discrimination, prejudice, persecution, warfare, property rights, forced migration, and other acts that might (or might not) be related to the religious life of the country. For all variables, the coders were asked to make substantive observations of the qualitative data and to base their codes on empirical observations of actions or patterns of behavior that were documented in the reports.
Users should be aware of the following limitations: (1) All variables reflect information that was coded from the State Department Reports. When no problem was reported, then the item was coded as “0”, meaning that “According to the Report, the item was not mentioned as a problem.” Since the reports tend to simply not report a problem rather than say that “the problem is absent,” we are not able to reasonably determine whether the problem was unobserved or absent. This means that the data reflect what was reported. (2) The focus of the reports is on limitations of religious freedom. Thus, we would argue that the most accurate measures are those which address the core issues related to the restriction (or regulation) of religious freedom and religious persecution. For example, government favoritism of religious education could arguably be harmless to religious freedom (helping the poor obtain skills) or harmful (training terrorists based on a religious ideology). Thus, since such issues tend to be reported when there is a problem, they cannot be used to form a full picture of the role of religion in education for a country. (3) The three different years of coding are not three discrete measures, but rather represent trend information that continues to be reported for several years running. This makes sense because cases of violence tend to have continuing effects. Thus, it would not be advisable to treat the data as separate measures from which time lines are developed since it may be possible that later years report newly arising problems in addition to old ones. (4) The aggregate dataset for the three years of coding contains the mean score of each ordinal variable and the mode score for categorical variables across the three years. We suggest that those using the data for social scientific modeling and analysis use the aggregate data set, which has the benefit of greater variation in the variables and lesser error since random errors from one year will be attenuated in the aggregate data.
For a more detailed description of the coding procedures, see Grim and Finke (2006).
- Sampling Procedures
- Primary data come from the coding of the 195 countries covered by the US State Department International Religious Freedom Reports.
- Principal Investigators
- Principal Investigators
The Association of Religion Data Archives
Roger Finke, Director
Brian J. Grim, Project Manager for International Data
- Related Publications
- Grim, Brian J. and Roger Finke (2006). "International Religion Indexes: Government Regulation, Government Favoritism, and Social Regulation of Religion." Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 2 (Article 1).
Grim, Brian J. and Roger Finke (2007). “Religious Persecution in Cross-National Context: Clashing Civilizations or Regulated Economies?” American Sociological Review 72:633-658.
Grim, Brian J., Roger Finke, Jaime Harris, Catherine Meyers, and Julie VanEerden. 2006. "Measuring International Socio-Religious Values and Conflict by Coding U.S. State Department Reports," Joint Statistical Meeting Proceedings, American Association for Public Opinion Research-Section on Survey Research Methods [CD-ROM], Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association: 4120 - 4127.
- List of Countries or Territories Included in this Data File:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Republic of the
Israeli Occupied Territories (Palestine)
Korea, (North) Democratic Republic of
Korea, (South) Republic of
Micronesia, Federated States of
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Serbia and Montenegro
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
*Note: This file was updated in October 2011 to account for missing data in the religious affiliation variables (LG1PCT03-LG5REL03).