Just caught a fragment of a political discussion on the radio and one person was telling the the liberal democracy is threatened and mentioned that some percentage related to liberal democracy diminishing in the past years.

Doing some research the I found out that the idea of shrinking liberal democracies and the rise of the illiberal ones is not new at all:

If you look at Freedom House scores, we’re in the middle of what has been—we’ve been tracking the state of democracy in the world for almost 50 years. And we’re in the middle of what some have called a democracy recession. So 12 consecutive years in which democracy, political rights, and civil liberties are declining around the world. This past year 70 countries experienced declines in our scores, compared to less than half that experienced improvements. What’s also kind of important to say is that really important and influential countries are actually backsliding in serious ways.

I tried locating an article that confirms these score, but I could not. I am wondering there is any type of source (article or paper) that provides some math to prove this allegation. E.g.: the number of persons living into countries that are considered liberal democracies as a percentage of all considered countries has dropped from x% to y%.

Question: Are there any sources that quantifies the liberal democracy shrinkage / recession?

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if that's exactly what you're searching for, but

Freedom House scores

is obviously the first thing that comes in mind by your question. Additionally, the Democracy Index could also be of interest for you when you're looking for numbers. The German version of the entry has even more tables to analyze. Generally, "Democracy Index" is a good choice on this topic, there are more sources to it than I linked here, also Freedom Index can be a helpful source. In the Freedom Indices you have to look up each one individually to see how they calculate their results.

  • Yes, these are good sources and the first one also shows the trend compared to the previous year (a better or worse place). I was wondering if there is a source that shows the dynamic over multiple years.
    – Alexei
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 15:08
  • Maybe the Vanhanen-Index could help you further here. German Wikipedia states that it has some entries going back even to the year 1810. It is very simple in it's calculation, so the modern indeces are likely more accurate. But I haven't found a link yet, but you may can give it a try?
    – miep
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 15:16
  • 1
    prio.org/Data/Governance/Vanhanens-index-of-democracy/… this may be valuable
    – miep
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 15:23
  • 1
    Here is a relevant criticism of the decline of democracy thesis and the use of Freedom House data to support it.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 20:31
  • @BrianZ - this seems very interesting as I did not hear any voice arguing against the thesis until now.
    – Alexei
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 8:14

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