Democracy Index

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The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index map for 2011, with greener colours representing more democratic countries. Countries with DI below 2 (clearly authoritarian) are in dark red.

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (a private business) that measures the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are United Nations member states. The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The Index was first produced in 2006, with updated lists produced in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

According to the latest issue of the Index, for 2011 Norway scored a total of 9.80 on a scale from zero to ten, keeping its position from 2010, when it replaced Sweden as the highest ranked country in the index. North Korea scored the lowest with 1.08, remaining at the bottom in 167th place, the same as in 2010. The Democracy Index for 2011 highlights the impact of the Arab Spring and the greater effects it might have, as well as the impact of the global financial crisis in 2008–09 on politics throughout most of Europe. The Democracy Index score was lower in 2011 than in 2010 in 48 countries out of the 167 that are covered. It was higher in 41 ranked countries, and it stayed the same in 78.[1]

The countries are categorized into full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. In nine countries there was a change in regime type between 2010 and 2011; in four of these there was regression. Russia was downgraded from a hybrid regime to an authoritarian regime, which the report attributes to concerns over the December 4 legislative election and Vladimir Putin's decision to run again in the 2012 presidential election.[1] Portugal was also downgraded to the flawed democracy category, attributed to the effects of the global financial crisis. Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, and Niger were all upgraded to hybrid regimes, and Zambia moved up to the flawed democracy category.[1]



As described in the report, the democracy index is a kind of weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted alternative answers. Most answers are "experts' assessments"; the report does not indicate what kinds of experts, nor their number, nor whether the experts are employees of the Economist Intelligence Unit or independent scholars, nor the nationalities of the experts. Some answers are provided by public-opinion surveys from the respective countries. In the case of countries for which survey results are missing, survey results for similar countries and expert assessments are used in order to fill in gaps.

The questions are distributed into the five categories enumerated above. Each answer is translated to a mark, either 0 or 1, or for the three-answer alternative questions, 0.5. With the exceptions mentioned below, seemingly, the sums are added within each category, multiplied by ten, and divided by the total number of questions within the category. There are a few modifying dependencies, which are explained much more precisely than the main rule procedures. In a few cases, an answer yielding zero for one question voids another question; e.g., if the elections for the national legislature and head of government are not considered free (question 1), then the next question, "Are elections... fair?" is not considered, but automatically marked zero. Likewise, there are a few questions considered so important that a low score on them yields a penalty on the total score sum for their respective categories, namely:

  1. "Whether national elections are free and fair";
  2. "The security of voters";
  3. "The influence of foreign powers on government";
  4. "The capability of the civil servants to implement policies".

The five category indices, which all are listed in the report, are then averaged to find the democracy index for a given country. Finally, the democracy index, rounded to one decimal, decides the classification of the country, as quoted:

  1. Full democracies—scores of 8 to 10.
  2. Flawed democracies—scores of 6 to 7.9.
  3. Hybrid regimes—scores of 4 to 5.9.
  4. Authoritarian regimes—scores of 0 to 3.9.

The report discusses other indices of democracy, as defined e.g. by Freedom House, and argues for some of the choices made by the team from the Economist Intelligence Unit. In this comparison, a higher emphasis has been put on the public opinion and attitudes, as measured by public surveys, but on the other hand, economic living standard has not been weighted as one criterion of democracy (as seemingly some other investigators have done).[2][3]

The report is widely cited in the international press as well as cited in peer reviewed academic journals.[4]

Democracy index by regime type

The following table constitutes the number of countries in each category according to 2010 survey.[5]

Type of regimeCountries % of countries % of world population
Full democracies2515.011.3
Flawed democracies5331.737.1
Hybrid regimes3622.214.0
Authoritarian regimes5331.137.6

World population refers to the total population of the 167 countries that are covered. Since this survey excludes only a few countries, this is nearly equal to the entire actual estimated world population in 2010.

Democracy index average by region

The following table constitutes the index average in each region.[5][6][7]

1Northern America8.648.648.638.59
2Western Europe8.608.618.458.40
3Latin America & the Caribbean6.376.436.376.35
4Asia & Australasia5.445.585.535.51
5Central and Eastern Europe5.765.675.555.50
6Sub-Saharan Africa4.
7Middle East & North Africa3.533.543.433.62

Countries and territories not included in this list

United Nations member states


States with limited recognition


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Democracy Index 2011". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Democracy Index 2010". Direct Democracy. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  3. ^ THE WORLD IN 2OO7: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of democracy By Laza Kekic, director, country forecasting services, Economist Intelligence Unit, Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  4. ^ e.g., Journal of International Affairs, More State Than Nation: Lukashenko's Belarus. (Inside the Authoritarian State), September 22, 2011: Manaev, Oleg, Manayeva, Natalie, and Yuran, Dzmitry.
  5. ^ a b "Democracy Index 2010". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Democracy Index 2008". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  7. ^

External links