Variance in Political Obligations 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. 10% of a country’s politics score (2% of the overall Country Similarity Index score) is allocated for any requirements a country’s government might compel its citizens to do. This includes military duty, jury duty, voting, paying taxes, as well as compulsory education. The following is an explanation on how they were considered:

Military Conscription

Some countries, like North Korea and Israel, require all their citizens, including women, to do military service. However, most countries that require military service only conscript men. In contrast, other countries, like Iceland and Costa Rica, do not even have a military. In addition, many countries only draft a small percentage of their men into military service, but do not require all.

The and Wikipedia are the main sources of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups:
Mandatory military service
Active draft for military service
Draft legal but not on-going
Voluntary military service
No military

Jury Duty

Countries that have legal systems based in Common Law use juries, but there are a few countries with Civil Law, like Brazil and Belgium that use them in limited cases too. Common Law is most often practiced in countries that were once British colonies, since it was developed in England. The United States is the only country that employs juries for both civil and criminal cases. Most countries only use it for criminal cases. In addition, there are a number of countries that have voluntary lay judges, like Japan and Germany, that assist professional judges during some trials.

The Duke University and Wikipedia are the sources of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups:
Jury duty for civil and criminal cases
Jury duty for criminal cases
Limited use of jury duty
Voluntary lay judges
No jury duty

Compulsory Education

There are a few countries like Ethiopia, Nepal, and Cambodia, that do not require children to go to school. The vast majority of countries require their students to have at least 9 years of school. Some even require more than 12 years. In general, wealthier countries tend to have longer periods of compulsory education.

Reddit is the main source of the data:

Countries were categorized by the number of years children are required to go to school:
None, 4+, 8+, 10+, 12+

Mandatory Voting

Some governments even require their citizens to vote. This is most common in Latin America, but the law is usually not enforced, or the penalty is very small. In most countries voting is voluntary. However, some countries do not even hold a vote. Two of the largest countries that do not have elections are China and Saudi Arabia. In China, the legislators are chosen by Communist Party leaders. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no legislature. United Arab Emirates has a unique system, where an electoral college comprised of a small percentage of the country’s citizens are selected to vote.

The Independent and Our World in Data are the main sources of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups:
No Voting
Voting limited to a select group
Voluntary voting
Mandatory voting but unenforced
Mandatory voting


Wealthier countries tend to have much higher taxes. France and Denmark have the highest tax revenue in the world in comparison to their GDP. One exception is Saudi Arabia, where there is no personal income tax. Taxation is difficult in countries experiencing civil war like Somalia, since their governments are unstable.

Our World in Data is the main source of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups by percentage of tax as share of the GDP:
0-10%, 10-20%, 20-30%, 30-40%, 40-50%

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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