As an example, the UK is formally considered a unitary state but in reality its subregions enjoy a lot of autonomy and are able to pass laws of their own. On the other hand Russia is formally a federation but in practice all of its states are centrally controlled from Moscow and the legal system is more or less unitary across the entire country.

Does there exist a ranking of states based on how unitary/federalized they are in practice? I suspect Vatican would be the most unitary state while Switzerland the most federalized one, but it would be interesting to see how other countries are ranked.

  • This article(Spanish) quotes this 2016 study which seems a revision/enlargement (some of the authors are the same) of this 2008 study, but a) it talks about region authonomy, not countries (the same country can have different levels of regions, like US Territories/US States/Washington D.C.) and
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 16:52
  • b) the only freely available article, the Spanish article, does not provide a full list but is centered around the Spanish ratings. And of course, I would put my money on the existence of other rankings, with similar but slightly different criteria.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 16:53
  • @SJuan76 thanks for your input, I was able to track down the full dataset (see my answer below). Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 11:30
  • Regarding regional autonomy in the UK (and this is born out by the low ranking below), remember that British devolution is asymmetric: while, for example, the Scottish Parliament has a lot of power, for 80% of the UK population there is no comparable equivalent.
    – owjburnham
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 14:52
  • A system like the U.K. is called a "Devolved Unitary State" and the national government has the the right to alter the powers up to and including the abolishment of local governments. Contrast with true unity states, such as France, in which there is no government other than the national government and federations like the U.S. where the national government manages a limited number of political powers that were ceded by a bunch of independent states, which only deals in those matters the member-states collectively agreed on .
    – hszmv
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


Yes, such an index indeed exists:

The Regional Authority Index (RAI) measures the authority in self rule and shared rule exercised by regional governments with 96 countries on an annual basis over the period 1950-2018.

I've selected the country scores as of the year 2018 into the table below. You can find additional information about the project and individual country profiles on the second author's website.

Country RAI (2018)
Germany 37.67
Bosnia and Herzegovina 36.34
India 35.60
Spain 35.60
Belgium 33.88
United States 29.61
Pakistan 28.67
Canada 27.77
Switzerland 26.50
Italy 25.95
Australia 25.45
Argentina 24.50
Austria 23.00
Peru 22.06
Russian Federation 21.86
France 21.85
Brazil 21.79
Malaysia 21.48
Mexico 21.41
Indonesia 20.78
Nepal 19.50
Bangladesh 18.95
Japan 18.14
Netherlands 17.50
China 15.56
Colombia 15.01
South Korea 13.22
Myanmar 12.89
Bolivia 12.54
Czech Republic 12.32
Norway 12.11
Sweden 12.00
Uruguay 12.00
Poland 11.32
Philippines 11.18
Ireland 11.00
New Zealand 11.00
Sri Lanka 11.00
Taiwan 11.00
Romania 10.09
Ecuador 9.75
United Kingdom 9.59
Croatia 9.55
Portugal 9.51
Greece 9.00
Slovakia 8.84
Turkey 8.76
Papua New Guinea 8.68
Paraguay 8.16
Hungary 8.13
Vietnam 8.00
Serbia 7.44
Denmark 7.34
Finland 7.09
Ukraine 7.06
Venezuela 6.14
Chile 6.00
Haiti 5.50
Panama 5.36
Cambodia 5.00
Cuba 4.97
Nicaragua 4.51
Mongolia 4.51
North-Macedonia 4.26
Thailand 4.01
Latvia 4.00
Dominican Republic 3.62
Slovenia 3.23
El Salvador 2.09
Albania 2.00
Bulgaria 2.00
Lithuania 2.00
Israel 2.00
Cyprus 1.00
Laos 1.00
Guatemala 1.00
Honduras 1.00
Trinidad and Tobago 0.46
Costa Rica 0.08
Estonia 0.00
Iceland 0.00
Luxembourg 0.00
Malta 0.00
Montenegro 0.00
Kosovo 0.00
Singapore 0.00
Brunei 0.00
East Timor 0.00
Bhutan 0.00
Bahamas 0.00
Barbados 0.00
Belize 0.00
Guyana 0.00
Jamaica 0.00
Suriname 0.00

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