Democracy Index 2021: less than half the world lives in a democracy
February 10, 2022

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The 2021 edition of the EIU’s Democracy Index sheds light on continued challenges to democracy worldwide, under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and increasing support for authoritarian alternatives.

The annual index, which provides a measurement of the state of global democracy, reveals an overall score of 5.28, down from 5.37 in 2020. This fall is the biggest since 2010, in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis, and sets another dismal record for the worst global score since the index was first produced in 2006.


According to EIU’s measure of democracy, less than half (45.7%) of the world’s population now live in a democracy of some sort, which is a significant decline from 2020 (49.4%). Even fewer (6.4%) reside in a “full democracy”; this level is slightly down from 8.4% in 2020, after two countries (Chile and Spain) were downgraded to “flawed democracies”. Substantially more than a third of the world’s population (37.1%) live under authoritarian rule, a large share of which are in China.

There were 13 changes of regime type in 2021—nine negative and four positive. Chile and Spain were downgraded from “full democracies” to “flawed democracies”. Three east European countries—Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia—improved their status from “hybrid regimes” to “flawed democracies”. Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay and Tunisia were all relegated from “flawed democracies” to “hybrid regimes”. Mauritania was promoted from the “authoritarian” classification to that of “hybrid regime”. The Kyrgyz Republic slipped eight places and was demoted from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime”. Haiti followed the same path, as did Lebanon.

The majority of countries registered a deterioration in their average score or stagnated in 2021, with only 47 (28.1%) of a total of 167 recording an improvement. About 74 (44.3%) recorded a decline in their total score compared with 2020. The other 46 (27.5%) stagnated, with their scores remaining unchanged from 2020. There were a few improvements and some dramatic declines, with Moldova and Indonesia registering the biggest improvements, measured by the change in their overall scores, and Afghanistan, Myanmar and Tunisia the biggest declines. A large number of Latin American countries recorded steep falls in their overall scores.

Alongside the global rankings table, a regional wrap-up and a look at the key country movers, this edition of the Democracy Index also asks the question: how much of a challenge does China’s political model pose globally?

Download the full report “Democracy Index 2021”.

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