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About Us

See our 2020 Annual Report here.

LAPOP is a world leader in the development, implementation, and analysis of studies of opinions and behaviors. A center for excellence in international survey research, our team uses gold-standard scientific approaches and innovative methods in cross-national and targeted surveys, evaluations, and reports.

We hold our surveys and studies to the highest standards of quality. This unparalleled quality control is carried out at each stage of the project: questionnaire and sample design, pre-testing, fieldwork oversight, expert data processing and analysis, and reporting.

LAPOP functions as a social science lab, directed by Elizabeth J. Zechmeister and Associate Director, Noam Lupu. The lab is hosted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Within that space, a team of professional research staff, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty collaborate over projects. Through various collaborations and exchanges, these individuals work in consortium with a network of partners across the Americas, and beyond.

LAPOP began with the pioneering efforts of Mitchell A. Seligson (LAPOP founder and currently Senior Advisor). Seligson initiated LAPOP with research on democratic values in Costa Rica, at a time when much of the rest of the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region was caught in the grip of repressive regimes that widely prohibited studies of public opinion (and systematically violated human rights and civil liberties). As the region democratized, Seligson – and, later, Zechmeister and Lupu – expanded LAPOP’s geographic reach while advancing innovations in survey methods.

The AmericasBarometer is LAPOP’s best-known project. This study is the only scientifically rigorous comparative survey of democratic values and behaviors that covers all independent countries in North, Central, and South America, as well as a significant number of countries in the Caribbean. LAPOP’s work on the AmericasBarometer includes survey design, sample design, qualitative and iterative pre-testing of new modules, data auditing, and analysis and reporting.  In 2018, LAPOP’s AmericasBarometer project was recognized with the Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Data Set Award given by the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

The LAPOP team has been responsible for developing increasingly sophisticated software and programs for use on smartphones and tablets for face-to-face and phone interviews. This software is especially tailored for multi-lingual countries/questionnaires, experiments, and complex skip patterns as well as for conducting experiments in the field. LAPOP’s quality control program (FALCON ©) features an unrivaled capacity to track response rates, prevent location errors in the sample, monitor interview quality, and detect and prevent fraud.

Through years of polling an increasing number of countries, LAPOP has developed a tremendous amount of publicly available data on citizens’ perceptions, experiences, and behaviors. As a developer of cutting-edge methods, the lab is a resource for those interested in producing, accessing, or analyzing public opinion data of the highest quality. LAPOP data has been the basis of scores of articles in professional journals, and has been the basis of many of the 50+ Ph.D. dissertations that faculty associated with LAPOP have supervised over the years; it has also been utilized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in its efforts to promote Latin American democracy and, as well, by the governments of several LAC region countries. LAPOP-generated studies are also used by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others in reports, indices, and analyses. Over the years, USAID has provided core support for LAPOP's projects and for training. LAPOP also receives core support from Vanderbilt University. The IADB, UNDP, Tinker Foundation, Open Society Foundations, among others, have recently collaborated with LAPOP to provide additional support to the AmericasBarometer.

LAPOP is a charter member of AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative.