Variance in Restrictions by Country

The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on politics. 20% of a country’s politics score (4% of the overall Country Similarity Index score) is allocated for any laws a country’s government might have that restrict their citizen’s rights. This includes restrictions on guns, drugs, marriage, prostitution, pornography, abortion, and surrogacy. The following is an explanation on how they were considered:

Gun Laws

Private citizens are not allowed to own guns in some countries. This is the case in some dictatorships, like Eritrea and North Korea. In contrast, the citizens of Yemen do not even need a license to buy a gun. The United States and Israel have particularly relaxed gun control laws as well. However, in most countries, the possession of private firearms is legal, but heavily regulated.

The Gun Freedom Index is the main source of the data:
http://www.freeexistence.org/gunindex.html

Countries were categorized by their amount of gun freedom into the following scores:
0-10, 10-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70, 70-80, 80-90

Drug Laws

In most countries the possession of drugs is criminalized. Some countries, mostly in Asia, have the death penalty for drug traffickers. However, there are also a few countries with permissive drug possession laws. For example, in Mexico, cocaine is legal. The Netherlands also has very liberal drug laws since amounts for personal use are decriminalized. Furthermore, some countries have legalized marijuana, like Uruguay and South Africa.

The Drug Freedom Index and Wikipedia are the sources of the data: http://www.freeexistence.org/drugindex.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis

Countries were categorized by their amount of drug freedom into the following general groups:
Hard Drugs Decriminalized, Marijuana Legalized, Marijuana Decriminalized, Drugs Fined, Drugs Criminalized

Alcohol Laws

In most countries drinking alcohol is legal, however there are a few conservative Muslim countries that have completely banned it. There are also some countries where it is only legal for non-Muslims, like Qatar, Bahrain, and Sudan. In addition, some countries have more restrictive alcohol laws, like the United States, where the age limit is 21 and consumption in public places is not allowed. There are also a few countries, especially in Africa, with very relaxed laws on alcohol, since it can legally be sold to people of any age.

Wikipedia is the source of the data:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_alcohol_prohibition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_drinking_age

Countries were categorized by their amount of drug freedom into the following general groups:
Unrestricted, Unrestricted for 18+, Unrestricted for 20+, Banned for Muslims, Banned for Everyone

Homosexuality Laws

The laws on homosexuality vary greatly throughout the world. Same-sex marriage is allowed in many countries in the Western Hemisphere and in Western Europe. In contrast, in most Muslim countries, homosexuality is criminalized. In Iran and Somalia, a person can even be given the death penalty for it. There are also many countries where same-sex marriage is illegal, but homosexuality is not criminalized.

Wikipedia is the source of the data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory#/media/File:World_laws_pertaining_to_homosexual_relationships_and_expression.svg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory#/media/File:LGBT_rights_at_the_UN_(2011).svg

Countries were categorized by their homosexuality laws into the following general groups:
Gay Marriage Allowed, Civil Unions Allowed, Civil Unions Not Allowed, Gay Rights Opposed, Homosexuality Criminalized

Polygamy Laws

In general, most countries that criminalize homosexuality allow polygamy, while all countries that allow gay marriage criminalize polygamy (with the exception of South Africa). Polygamy is allowed in most Muslim countries, although there are a few where it is criminalized like Tunisia, Turkey, and Albania. In India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore it is only legal for Muslims. Gabon is unique since it is legal for both men and women to have multiple spouses.

The Wikipedia is the main source of the data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy#/media/File:Legality_of_polygamy.svg

Countries were categorized by their polygamy laws into the following general groups:
Polygamy Allowed, Polygamy Allowed for Men Only, Polygamy Allowed for Muslims Only, Polygamy Not Allowed, Polygamy Criminalized

Prostitution Laws

Laws on prostitution can vary greatly, even between similar countries. One of the ways some countries restrict prostitution is by only criminalizing buying sex, but not selling it. This is known as neo-abolitionism. Other countries allow buying and selling sex, but do not allow organized brothels. This is known as abolitionism. Furthermore, a few countries have decriminalized prostitution. These de jure laws may not always match up with what is actually practiced. For instance, in Thailand, prostitution is technically illegal, although it is widespread.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_law#/media/File:Prostitution_laws_of_the_world2.svg

Countries were categorized by their prostitution laws into the following groups:
Prohibition, Neo-Abolition, Abolition, Decriminalization, Legalization

Pornography Laws

In general, the laws are more liberal in Europe and the Americas, while they are more conservative in Asia and Africa. In some Muslim countries, people selling pornography might face the death penalty. Other countries, like South Korea and Lithuania, restrict the sale of pornography, but do not ban the possession of it.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_laws_by_region

Countries were categorized by their pornography laws into the following groups:
Legal to distribute, Distribution restricted, Illegal to sell, Possession restricted, Possession illegal

Abortion Laws

Abortion laws can vary greatly, even between similar countries. Some countries like China and Vietnam allow abortion under any circumstance. In contrast, in the conservative Latin America countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador, abortion is not allowed under any circumstances. Most countries are somewhere in between these two extremes, allowing abortion for different sets of circumstances.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law

Countries were scored on their abortion laws by the number of situations it is allowed, including:
Children with Defects, Rapes, Parents Unable to Afford, Danger to Mother’s Heath, On request

Surrogacy Laws

Many countries actually do not have laws about surrogacy. However, some countries have banned surrogacy, like France and China, while many former countries in the USSR have completely legalized it. There are also countries where the surrogate mother can only do it for altruistic purposes, not money.

Orm Fertility is the main source of the data:
https://ormfertility.com/surrogacy/surrogacy-where-in-the-world/

Countries were categorized by their surrogacy laws into the following groups:
Allowed, Unregulated, Altruistic Only, Relatives Only, Not Allowed

Obviously there is no one clear way to determine how similar one country is to another. How would you quantify how similar one country is to another?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

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