International Day of Democracy

How is the World Measuring Up?

The global pandemic has not only affected health and wellness, it has also weakened democratic institutions. As the world recognizes the International Day of Democracy on September 15, many are hoping for improvements to democracy.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared September 15 the International Day of Democracy. Since then, the day has become an annual opportunity to review the status of democracy around the world.

The Democracy Index, compiled each year by the U.K.-based Economist Intelligence Unit, measures worldwide democracy based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; functioning of government; political participation; political culture; and civil liberties. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted every region of the world, but some regions and countries have suffered worse than others.

Below, we take a look at how democracy is faring today.

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45% of the world’s population now lives in a democracy of some sort, a decline from 49% in 2020.


74 of the 167 countries and territories that were included in the study are considered to be democracies.


Only 6.4% of the world's population resides in a “full democracy,” down from 8.4% in 2020. Chile and Spain were downgraded to “flawed democracies.”

The number of “full democracies” fell from 23 in 2020 to 21 in 2021.


37% of the world’s population lives under authoritarian rule.

59 countries are led by “authoritarian regimes,” up from 57 in 2020.


Bottom rankings: Afghanistan and Myanmar displaced North Korea as the most authoritarian countries on the list.


Top 5 rankings: Norway remains at the top of the list for the least authoritarian country.


Democracy Index

Historical change