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Data InsightsThe share of democracies has recently stagnated but remains near its historical high
May 14, 2024Bastian Herre

The share of democracies has recently stagnated but remains near its historical high

Stacked area chart of the share of countries that are democracies and autocracies between 1973 and 2023. The share of closed autocracies decreases a lot over time, but recently increases. The share of liberal democracies decreases slightly over time, but recently decreases. The share of electoral democracies increases a lot and recently stagnates. The share of electoral autocracies increases over time.

Over the last twenty years, the share of countries that are democracies has remained relatively stable.

Relying on data from Varieties of Democracy, which we just updated, the chart shows that around half of all countries are democracies.

The world remains close to the historical high in the early 2000s and is much more democratic than 50 years ago; only 20% of countries were democracies in the early 1970s.

However, the chart shows smaller changes within democratic regimes: the share of liberal democracies, which grant additional individual and minority rights and constrain their governments, has decreased over the last decade.

While democracy has remained fairly resilient over the last few decades, this recent stagnation and limited rollback stresses that progress on increasing political rights is neither linear nor guaranteed.

Read more about the recent changes in democracy