The religion and state-minorities dataset

Yasemin Akbaba, Jonathan Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article presents the Religion and State-Minorities (RASM) dataset addressing its design, collection, and utility. RASM codes religious discrimination by governments against all 566 minorities in 175 countries which make a minimum population cutoff. It includes 24 specific types of religious discrimination coded yearly from 1990 to 2002. Religious discrimination measures the absence of the human right of religious freedom which includes limits on religious practices such as worship as well as limits on religious institutions such as churches and mosques which are not placed on the majority group. Thus the dataset focuses on the restriction of religious group rights. Most similar datasets, including those that focus on human rights in general, include a single discrimination score for a country. RASM is the first to contain an accounting of religious discrimination against all relevant religious minorities on an individual basis while avoiding some methodological problems of previous similar data collections. In order to demonstrate the utility of the dataset, we examine the relationship between religious identity and religious discrimination. We find that both majority and minority identities matter in predicting the treatment of religious minorities. This demonstration that codings for individual minorities add to our understanding of the correlates of religious discrimination is illustrative of the potential uses of this dataset. It also indicates that this type of data can be useful in other types of studies where dyads based on religious identity are relevant, such as studies of ethnic conflict and civil war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-816
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 896/00), the Sara and Simha Lainer Chair in Democracy and Civility, and the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. Replication data


  • discrimination
  • freedom
  • human rights
  • identity
  • minorities
  • religion
  • repression


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