By providing a bottom up assessment of governance, the Globalbarometer adds insights and interpretations to 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 therefore delve deeper than, for example, official poverty data, by reporting on people’s experiences in obtaining basic human needs and their own perceptions of whether or not they feel poor. We also, for example, complement official voter turnout statistics with self-reported data voting, partisan preferences, and participation in a wide array of activities.
A further key feather of the GB approach is to break down public opinion into subgroups. Although GB data allow generalizations about the populations of whole countries, we find it much more useful to contrast the differential responses of various individuals and groups. Analysts can disaggregate all GB 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. And we can measure whether different people -- including ethnic minorities and disadvantaged class -- think they have attained these goals.
Moreover, GB results cast light on the reason underlying popular orientations to change. At first glance, for example, attitudes to democracy or development might seem to be a function of a gender gap. But closer examination will likely reveal that there are few innate distinctions between men and women that cannot be explained by girls’ lack of access 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 GB surveys.
In our conception, there is a clear distinct between the Global Barometer and other survey-based studies like the World Values Survey (WVS). Whereas the WVS addresses deep-seated, semi-permanent cultural values, the GB is concerned with tracking emerging political and economic attitudes, which are often subject rapid change. More of a social weather report rather than an account of the social climate, the GB is implemented on a tighter schedule (every 2-3 years) than the WVS (every 4-5 years).