Measuring persecution

The new questionnaire design of the World Watch List


  • Christof Sauer


World Watch List, Open Doors, questionnaire, measuring, ranking, persecution


The “World Watch List” (WWL) of the advocacy agency Open Doors annually scores and ranks the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is worst. In view of its broad use by the media as well as criticism, the questionnaire for the WWL has been revised. This article examines the methodological challenges involved in measuring religious persecution with a focus on the questionnaire design. The WWL is placed in the context of other instruments for measuring religious freedom/persecution and the criticism of the WWL is analyzed. Questionnaire-related issues involve the selection of questions, their grouping and their balancing. Measuring and weighing indicators, the coding of questionnaires, and how to arrive at a final score for a country are discussed. Various problems such as variations within inhomogeneous countries, delimitation, transparency and feasibility are addressed.