The Arab Barometer: Measuring Change in the Middle East and North Africa

Post Developed by Katie Brown and Mark Tessler.

PrintThis is the first in a series of posts profiling innovative research projects associated with the Center for Political Studies (CPS) which make their data available at no cost for the public good. Today, we look at the Arab Barometer.

The Arab Barometer is a multi-wave, multi-country political attitude survey. Questions asked concern politics and government, religion and its political role, international affairs, and women’s rights, and status and gender relations.

The first wave of the Barometer surveys, which were carried out in 2006-2007, encompassed Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, and Yemen. The second wave of surveys, which were conducted in late 2010 and during 2011, included Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. The surveys in Egypt and Tunisia and most other countries were conducted in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The third wave of data collection, which will offer even greater contributions, is currently under way and nearing completion. Conducted in transitioning post-Arab Spring societies, the data will gauge attitudes toward elections, government performance, and Islam’s role in government and political affairs.

The Arab Barometer serves both scholars and policy makers. Thanks to the cross-national and longitudinal nature of the data, comparisons can be made across countries and over time. This is especially important given the unfolding of the Arab Spring during the second of three waves of Barometer surveys.  A growing number of publications utilize Arab Barometer data. Findings have also been disseminated to policy makers through the Middle East Channel and other outlets and venues.

CPS research professor and University of Michigan professor of political science Mark Tessler and Princeton University associate professor of politics Amaney Jamal are among the co-directors of the Arab Barometer. They and others on the Arab Barometer Steering Committee work with on-the-ground teams in participating Arab countries. Associations with which the Barometer work include the Arab Reform Initiative, an international Arab organization that works for political reform, and the Global Barometer, a world-wide network of regional democracy barometers.

In 2010, the American Political Science Association (APSA) awarded the Arab Barometer the Lijphart, Przeworksi and Verba award for the best publicly available data set in comparative politics.

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