This paper aims to construct a new set of institutional indicators for Malawi. Our political freedom index correlates strongly with the Freedom House political rights and civil liberties indices, but consists of a far longer time series, which can be used to examine long-run issues with greater efficacy. The high correlations between the political freedoms index and the various property rights indices suggests that, in the Malawian case, lack of political freedom is associated with lack of economic freedom and security. However, our property rights indices correlate poorly with an index based on de facto property rights. This suggests that despite the government’s legal power to abrogate property rights, these rights were generally respected. Cross-country comparisons suggest that political freedoms follow broadly similar patterns, particularly in Zimbabwe and Malawi. There is less of a match between countries on property rights issues, however.