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Liberal Democracies on the Decline?

05/26/17

Using Freedom House data (a U.S.-based non-governmental organization), we construct a “Global Democracy Index” (GDI) by calculating a global average of Freedom House’s country ratings of political rights and civil liberties over the 1973 to 2016 period. We then re-centered the data around zero with increasing/decreasing values representing improving/deteriorating democracy scores (index range +3 to -3). See our Strategy Chart of the Day below.
 It reveals that from the mid-1970’s to the mid-2000’s, our GDI consistently improved (i.e. on average countries were becoming more democratic), with significant gains seen in eastern Europe (the fall of the Berlin Wall) and Latin America over this period. However, since its peak in 2005 at 0.78, our GDI has steadily declined to 2016’s recent low of 0.63. Pressures emanating from structurally slower economic growth, a widening income gap, increased long-term unemployment, etc. are believed to be some of the reasons behind a global rise in populism / authoritarianism (thus the decline in the GDI) over the past decade which could maintain this trend in years to come.

 

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