Freedom as Defined by Freedom House – Strengths and Weaknesses of its Methodology

Freedom House’s methodology for scoring countries in freedom is very unique. They use a panel of experts to evaluate the current political conditions in countries.

What separates Freedom House from any competitors is their thoroughness of the questions they are rating the countries on. One of the first topics they question is the political system. How is it set up – are there multiple parties, how elections are conducted, and representation of minorities. If the answers for these questions come back favorable – multiple parties, free and fair elections, and minorities being represented – countries are that much closer to being declared free. Another topic that can determine freedom is to evaluate the media. The questions are used to determine how much control the government has over the media outlets. Naturally, the less control the government has over the media, the higher the better the freedom scores and ratings. That is not to say if the government controlled the media, it would do a poor job. What makes this an important aspect is it is necessary to understand that if the government does control the media, it will be able to unjustifiably praise itself or condemn its enemy regardless of the truth.

One of the noticeable drawbacks is the lack of information provided to the reader about the process. Despite the thoroughness of the questions, it does not specify how the experts and analysts procure their information, and some questions need to be asked. Primarily, where do the experts get their information to appropriately answer the questions. If we want to know where their information comes from, we also have to know how reliable their sources are. Also, is the panel responsible for evaluating every country that Freedom House has chosen to rate? The article is clear in saying “the analysts do not need to consider every subquestion during the scoring process”. Meaning that out of 90 people, only a few could be knowledgeable enough to evaluate a few countries state of freedom.

What Freedom House lacks in clarification of their system, they more than make up in how deep their questions are. From budgeting and economy to religion and school, no questions about what the government could control is left unasked in determining the freedom of countries.

Related article on restrictions against women around the world:


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