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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Statistics fun: Freedom House vs. HRW

I am no math wizard, but I was wondering after my last blog post  if there was any correlation - positive or negative - between the scores that Freedom House uses to determine how free a country is, and how much attention that country receives by Human Rights Watch, in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA.)

I calculated Freedom House's score by adding their two values for political rights and civil liberties, each on a scale of 1-7, so the freest countries would have a score of 2 and the least free a score of 14.

I used Google to estimate the number of mentions of each country at the HRW.com site.

Here is a chart with the raw numbers.

CountryHRW mentionsFreedom House score
Oman32811
Qatar45611
Bahrain46011
Algeria78711
Yemen99911
Morocco10609
Kuwait11309
UAE(+United Arab Emirates)120011
Libya124014
Jordan130011
Lebanon14508
Syria151013
Tunisia153012
Egypt193011
Iraq217011
Israel39403
Saudi Arabia414013
Iran573012

And graphically (I normalized the freedom score to put them on the same visual scale):


In a sane world, one would expect a positive correlation between how unfree a nation is and how many mentions it receives in Human Rights Watch. However, there is practically no correlation between the two mathematically in the MENA region - in fact, there is a weak negative correlation between them (-0.13).

Perhaps a reader will take it upon himself to see if this lack or correlation extends to other parts of the world, or if it is only in the Middle East that HRW's emphasis is so skewed.