Measures of democracy influence everything from journalism to risk agencies to pension funds. Governments and organizations use ratings of democracy to determine the flow of billions of dollars of aid and development and to measure the success of their programs. It makes sense that businesses, governments and organizations want to know the levels of freedom and democracy in countries before sending aid or other resources there.
But as I show in a new article, these rankings are not only rating democracy but also defining democracy for certain audiences. Commonly used ratings can tell us as much about the rater as the countries being rated.