About Us

The Global Barometer Surveys (GBS) network is an initiative that seeks to develop a global intellectual community of democracy studies surveying ordinary citizens. The project’s agenda is built on two premises: 1) public attitudes and orientations toward democracy are crucial to understanding the process of developing political legitimacy; and 2) political culture operates autonomously as a key factor mediating the impact of socio-economic modernization on the evolution of the political regime, particularly in democracies.

GBS was originally inspired by the Eurobarometer, which was funded in the 1970s to track mass attitudes in what was then the European Community. New regional barometers then further developed innovative approaches that have been adapted to world regions undergoing rapid political and economic change. As more and more regions join the GBS network, a standardized approach is now being established to ensure that the data is comparable and reliable.

GBS now covers Africa, East and South Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Eurasia), and the Middle East, more than 48% of the world’s population, and is still expanding.
By providing a bottom up assessment of governance, the Global Barometer Surveys (GBS) add insights and interpretations that can complement official national statistics. Our surveys focus on people, especially their subjective opinions. Since the opinions that individuals express do not always reflect their objective material circumstances, we seek to delve deeper than that. We do so, for example, by comparing and contrasting our findings with official poverty data, by investigating people’s experiences when obtaining basic human needs, and examining personal perceptions of whether or not people feel poor. Moreover, we also complement official voter turnout statistics with self-reported voting data, partisan preferences, and participation in a wide array of activities.

A further key feature of the GBS approach is that it breaks down public opinion into several subgroups. Although GBS data allow generalizations about the populations of whole countries, we find it much more useful to contrast the diverging responses of various individuals and groups. Analysts can disaggregate all GBS findings by gender, age, economic status, and a host of other demographic and attitudinal factors. As such, barometer surveys can distinguish precisely how different groups understand and pursue democracy, prosperity and human security. Also, GBS measures whether different people – including ethnic minorities and disadvantaged classes – think they have attained these goals.

Moreover, GBS results cast light on the reasons why underlying popular orientations change. Whereas at first glance, for instance, attitudes to democracy or development might seem to be a function of a gender gap, a closer examination will reveal that there are few innate distinctions between men and women that cannot be explained by the lack of access of women to formal education. Probing further, we may discover that even educational disadvantages can be partially overcome if an individual has a sense of responsibility for her own welfare or the will to become actively engaged in the wider world of public affairs. It is possible to arrive at such penetrating explanations – and thereby at more reliable policy recommendations – only via multivariate analysis of the sort of individual-level data generated by the GBS.

In our conception, there is a clear distinction between the GBS and other survey-based studies like the World Values Survey (WVS). Whereas the WVS addresses deep-seated, semi-permanent cultural values, the GBS is concerned with tracking emerging political and economic attitudes, which are often subject to rapid change. Hence, more a social weather report than an account of the social climate, the GBS is implemented on a tighter schedule (every 2-3 years) than the WVS (every 4-5 years).
The Global Barometer Surveys (GBS) have three main goals. The first is to generate a worldwide base of scientifically reliable and comparable data on public opinions on democracy, prosperity, and human security. We gather this information by means of face-to-face interviews with randomly selected samples of respondents that represent the adult population in each country. The research instrument is translated into the local language and trained fieldworkers conduct each interview in the local language of the respondent’s choice. To ensure quality control, all interviews, and the subsequent entry of data into electronic databases, are closely supervised. By insisting on strict research standards, we seek to assure the users of our data that it is trustworthy and accurate.

The second objective is to strengthen institutional capacities for survey research in all participating countries. We address this objective principally through the mutual exchange of expertise, occasionally supplemented with technical training workshops. The GBS is made up of a diverse set of organizations, including university research institutes, private sector research teams, and non-governmental think-tanks. Each of these partners has distinctive skills, for example in the conceptualization of applied social science research problems, the organization of survey fieldwork, the management of large data sets, and the cultural interpretation of the survey results. The GBS fosters exchange of expertise by bringing partners together for planning and analysis at the national, regional, and global levels.

Finally, we aim to disseminate survey results to popular and policy audiences. The GBS reports take various forms and are directed to a wide assortment of users, including decision makers in legislative and executive branches of government, policy advocates and civic educators, journalists in the mass media, and researchers doing program evaluations of programs of good governance and socioeconomic development. In addition, as a reflection of “the voice of the people”– especially as public opinion is reported in the print press and radio news broadcasts – our surveys aim to help ordinary adults become better informed and more active citizens.
The organizational structure of the Global Barometer Surveys (GBS) network is based on the idea of self-governance, i.e. each regional barometer directs its own roster of research institutes located in the 50 countries where surveys are conducted. For example, the Afrobarometer commissions data collection in Nigeria from Practical Sampling International, and in South Africa from Citizens Surveys. However, to properly coordinate the operation of each regional barometer and maintain high standards of research, the GBS network is managed through four bodies:

● Executive Board – composed of one representative from each regional barometer
The Executive Board provides leadership and makes decisions for the GBS, develops proposals for research and funding, plans and coordinates surveys according to a common schedule, and authorizes other actions, including delegating tasks to working groups. Below follows a list with the members of the executive board.

● Co-chairs of the executive board:

Marta Lagos

Director of Latinobarómetro

Yun-han Chu

Director of Asian Barometer
Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica / Academician, Academia Sinica

● Members of the executive board:

E. Gyimah-Boadi

Director of Afrobarometer
Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon.

Robert Mattes

Senior Advisor of Afrobarometer
Professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town.

Michael Robbins

Director of Arab Barometer
Senior Research Specialist, Princeton University Research Fellow, University of Michigan

Christian Haerpfer

Director of Eurasia Barometer
Research Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna

Sandeep Shastri

Pro Vice Chancellor, Jain University National Coordinator, Lokniti Network

● Secretariat – deals with routine operations of the GBS network
The Secretariat is responsible for implementing the routine tasks of the GBS, including organizing meetings as well as workshops, managing the GBS merged data, publishing GBS reports, updating the GBS website, etc. The Secretariat was operated by the Latinobarómetro in Santiago until 2015. Since 2015, the Secretariat has rotated to the Asian Barometer and now operates in Taipei.

● General Meeting – represents the national partners in the network
The purpose of the General Meeting is to discuss GBS protocols, to raise new subjects, and to provide inputs into Executive Board decisions. Through region-wide and cross- regional meetings in different cities, the GBS network also develops questionnaires and new methods and reports results through an iterative process of professional exchange.

● Advisory Board – consists of respected senior analysts and practitioners
The Advisory Board is chaired by Larry Diamond of Stanford University, co-editor of the Journal of Democracy. The Board provides general advice, technical expertise, and professional contacts on an as-needed basis.