LAPOP’s mission is to:
- Produce high quality public opinion data
- Develop and implement cutting-edge survey methods
- Build capacity in survey research and analysis
- Generate and disseminate policy-relevant research
LAPOP grew out of pioneering efforts by LAPOP Founder and Senior Advisor, Dr. Mitch Seligson. Our first study of democratic values was conducted in the 1970s, in Costa Rica. Over the years, our geographic scope, team, and network of affiliates has expanded significantly. Today we conduct projects across the Americas and, as well, in Asia and in Africa.
Our core project is the AmericasBarometer, a regular survey of citizens’ experiences, evaluations, and preferences in the Western Hemisphere. The AmericasBarometer was launched in 2004/05, with 11 countries, and quickly grew to cover 34 countries in the Americas. The eighth round was carried out in 2021 and includes over 64,000 interviews in 22 countries. Key to a comparative project is standardization in design and methods; we accomplish this via peer-reviewed sample designs, standardized protocols, the pioneering use of electronic devices for data collection in face-to-face interviews, layers of quality control, and partnerships with reputable firms and researchers across the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.
LAPOP-generated data and research are used by individuals and organizations across the Americas to diagnose challenges and advance solutions in the broad area of democratic governance. By making the data public, by lending our technical support to the user community, and by effectively distributing key findings via reports, social media, presentations, and workshops, the AmericasBarometer has become integral to conversations and programming on the rule of law, economic well-being, social inclusion, political tolerance, democracy, and many other topics.
LAPOP has a long history of effective partnerships with the international development community. Since its inception, the AmericasBarometer has been supported by a cooperative agreement with USAID. Across rounds of the survey project, we have partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), to advance research on citizen security and other topics. Our collaborations with the policymaking community have involved work on impact evaluations, numerous reports, and the input of our data into widely-used indices, including the Americas Quarterly Social Inclusion Index and the World Bank Governance Indicators.
As an academic research institute, capacity building is a core part of our mission. Through research assistantships, fellow programs, and classes, undergraduate and graduate students gain hands-on experiences in all aspects of survey research design, implementation, analysis, and report writing. Many of our former students are themselves busy training the next generation of survey research consumers, analysts, and producers across the Americas. Through collaborations with our network of affiliates, and on our own, we generate and implement workshops centered on LAPOP’s methods and datasets at locations across the Americas.
Below please find pictures of the early days: On the left is LAPOP Founder and Senior Adviser Mitch Seligson planning the sample design for his doctoral dissertation. On the right see Research Professor Susan Berk Seligson (Coordinator of CARSI Qualitative Research) conducting an interview in 1973 in rural Costa Rica as part of Susan's first socio-linguistic fieldwork and Mitch's doctoral dissertation.