We received with great sadness the message that Ronald Inglehart died on May 8, 2021. With Ron’s passing, the scientific community has lost a distinguished scholar who put values research on the global map. He contributed enormously to research on social, political and cultural change in contemporary society; the whole scientific community is indebted to him.
Ron Inglehart is best known as the founding father of the World Values Survey, a worldwide network of values researchers that organizes surveys to empirically investigate values and value change in countries around the world. This initiative originated in the European Values Study, which conducted surveys to explore value change in Europe. Ron Inglehart was introduced to EVS by Jacques-René Rabier, who had started the Eurobarometer and collaborated with Ron on that project. Ron was particularly interested in questions about political values, the role of the economy and attitudes towards the quality of life.
To further test his ‘Silent Revolution’ theory, Ron also needed data from less developed countries, which motivated him to start the World Values Survey in the early 1990s. Researchers in many nations all over the world collaborated in conducting repeated surveys among representative samples in their countries, resulting in an impressive dataset covering more than 100 societies around the globe. Using this international dataset, he demonstrated that value patterns are determined to a large extent by the degree of existential security in a society, but also that historical and cultural heritage produces path dependence in value change.
Over the years, the two values projects worked together in defining items for the questionnaires and integrating datasets for wider use. The scientific community owes Ron a great deal, both for his analytical and theoretical productivity and for his unflagging commitment to collecting data from around the world. He carried out, and enabled others to conduct, invaluable comparative studies on basic human values.
All of us will feel Ron’s absence as a great loss. We will miss him in our discussions of value change, and we will particularly miss his collaboration in collecting data for the scientific studies that he did so much to promote.
Our deep and sincere condolences go to his family and friends.