Democracy Index

The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index map for 2015.
Greener colours represent more democratic countries.

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the UK based Economist Intelligence Unit, that measures the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties, and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorizes countries as one of four regime types full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

The index was first produced for 2006, with updates for 2008, 2010 and the following years since then. The earlier versions are fully open access, the 2015 document requires registration.


As described in the report,[1] the democracy index is a 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 in the five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. 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, 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 four category indices, which 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 regime type classification of the country.

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 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 in peer reviewed academic journals.[4]

Classification definitions

Full democracies are nations where civil liberties and basic political freedoms are not only respected, yet are also reinforced by a political culture conducive to the thriving of democratic principles. These nations have a valid system of governmental checks and balances, independent judiciary whose decisions are enforced, governments which function adequately, and media which is diverse and independent. These nations have only limited problems in democratic functioning.

Flawed democracies are nations where elections are fair and free, but may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement), and basic civil liberties are honored. Nonetheless, these nations have significant faults in other democratic aspects, including underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics, and issues in the functioning of governance.

Hybrid regimes are nations where consequential irregularities exist in elections regularly preventing them from being fair and free. These nations commonly have governments which apply pressure on political opponents, non independent judiciaries, widespread corruption, harassment and pressure placed on the media, anemic rule of law, and more pronounced faults than flawed democracies in the realms of underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics, and issues in the functioning of governance.

Authoritarian regimes are nations where political pluralism has vanished or is extremely limited. These nations are often absolute dictatorships, may have some conventional institutions of democracy- but with meager significance, infringements and abuses of civil liberties are commonplace, elections- if they take place- are not fair and free, the media is often state-owned or controlled by groups associated with the ruling regime, the judiciary is not independent, and the presence of omnipresent censorship and suppression of governmental criticism.

Changes from 2010 onwards

According to the issue of the index for 2012, Norway scored a total of 9.93 on a scale from zero to ten, keeping the first-place position it has held since 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 and 2011.[1]

There was no significant improvement or regression in democracy between 2011 and 2012. In 2012 the index score stayed the same for 73 out of 167 countries, improved for 54 countries, and declined for 40. Libya experienced the biggest increase of any country in its score in 2012. Average regional scores in 2012 were very similar to scores in 2011. An exception is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) where the average score increased by more than a tenth of a point, from 3.62 to 3.73 and three countries moved from authoritarian to hybrid regimes (Egypt, Libya, Morocco).[1]

The Democracy Index for 2011 highlighted the impact of the Arab Spring and the greater effects it might have, as well as the impact of the global financial crisis in 2007–08 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.[5]

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. 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.[5]

Democracy index by regime type

The following table gives the number and percentage of countries and the percentage of the world population for each regime type in 2015[6]

Type of regime Scores Number of
of countries
Percentage of
world population
Full democracies 8.01 to 10 20 12.0 8.9
Flawed democracies 6.01 to 8.0 59 35.3 39.5
Hybrid regimes 4.01 to 6.0 37 22.2 17.5
Authoritarian regimes   0 to 4.0 51 30.5 34.1

World population refers to the total population of the 167 countries covered by the Index. Since this excludes only micro-states, this is nearly equal to the entire estimated world population.

Democracy index by region

The following table gives the index average by world region, and the number of covered countries in 2015. Note that some regional groups (e.g., the 'Eastern Europe') are very heterogeneous and composed of full democracies as well as authoritarian regimes:

Rank Region Countries 2006[3] 2008[7] 2010[8] 2011[5] 2012[1] 2013[9] 2014[10] 2015[6]
1 Northern America 2 8.64 8.64 8.63 8.59 8.59 8.59 8.59 8.56
2 Western Europe 21 8.60 8.61 8.45 8.40 8.44 8.41 8.41 8.42
3 Latin America and the Caribbean 24 6.37 6.43 6.37 6.35 6.36 6.38 6.36 6.37
4 Asia and Australasia 28 5.44 5.58 5.53 5.51 5.56 5.61 5.70 5.74
5 Central and Eastern Europe 28 5.76 5.67 5.55 5.50 5.51 5.53 5.58 5.55
6 Sub-Saharan Africa 44 4.24 4.28 4.23 4.32 4.33 4.36 4.34 4.38
7 Middle East and North Africa 20 3.54 3.48 3.52 3.62 3.73 3.68 3.65 3.58
  World 167 5.52 5.55 5.46 5.49 5.52 5.53 5.55 5.55

Democracy index by country (2015)

Listing by country is available on the Economist website;[6] for by-country tables in Wikipedia using similar measures, see List of freedom indices.

Democracy Index 2015
Rank Country Score Electoral process
and pluralism
Functioning of
1 Norway9.9310.009.6410.0010.0010.00Full democracy
2 Iceland9.5810.009.298.8910.009.71Full democracy
3 Sweden9.459.589.648.3310.009.71Full democracy
4 New Zealand9.2610.009.298.898.1310.00Full democracy
5 Denmark9. democracy
6  Switzerland9.099.589.297.789.389.41Full democracy
7 Canada9.089.589.297.788.7510.00Full democracy
8 Finland9.0310.008.937.788.759.71Full democracy
9 Australia9.019.588.937.788.7510.00Full democracy
10 Netherlands8.929.588.578.898.139.41Full democracy
11 Luxembourg8.8810.009.296.678.759.71Full democracy
12 Ireland8.859.587.507.789.3810.00Full democracy
13 Germany8.649.588.577.788.139.12Full democracy
14 Austria8.549.587.868.337.509.41Full democracy
15 Malta8.399. democracy
16 United Kingdom8.319.587.146.678.759.41Full democracy
17 Spain8.309.587. democracy
18 Mauritius8. democracy
19 Uruguay8.1710.008.934.447.5010.00Full democracy
20 United States8.059.177.507.228.138.24Full democracy
21 Italy7.989.586.437.228.138.53Flawed democracy
22 South Korea7.978.757.867.227.508.53Flawed democracy
23 Japan7.969. democracy
23 Costa Rica7.969.587.506.116.889.71Flawed democracy
25 Czech Republic7.949.587.146.676.889.41Flawed democracy
26 Belgium7.939.588.215.566.889.41Flawed democracy
27 France7.929.587.147.786.258.82Flawed democracy
28 Botswana7.879. democracy
29 Estonia7.859.587.866.116.888.82Flawed democracy
30 Chile7.849.588.574.446.889.71Flawed democracy
31 Taiwan7.839.587.866.675.639.41Flawed democracy
32 Cape Verde7.819.177.866.676.259.12Flawed democracy
33 Portugal7.799.586.436.676.889.41Flawed democracy
34 Israel7.779.177.148.897.506.18Flawed democracy
35 India7.749.587.147.225.639.12Flawed democracy
36 Slovenia7.579.587.146.675.638.82Flawed democracy
37 South Africa7.568.338.218.335.007.94Flawed democracy
38 Lithuania7.549.586. democracy
39 Cyprus7.539.176.436.676.259.12Flawed democracy
40 Greece7.459.585.366.676.259.41Flawed democracy
41 Jamaica7.399.176.795.006.889.12Flawed democracy
42 Latvia7.379.585.715.566.889.12Flawed democracy
43 Slovakia7.299.587.505.565.008.82Flawed democracy
44 Timor-Leste7.248.677.145.566.887.94Flawed democracy
45 Panama7.199.586.436.115.008.82Flawed democracy
46 Bulgaria7. democracy
47 Trinidad and Tobago7.109.587.145.565.008.24Flawed democracy
48 Poland7.099.585.716.674.389.12Flawed democracy
49 Indonesia7.037.757.146.676.257.35Flawed democracy
50 Argentina7. democracy
51 Brazil6.969.586.795.563.759.12Flawed democracy
52 Croatia6.939.176.075.565.638.24Flawed democracy
53 Ghana6.868.335.716.676.257.35Flawed democracy
54 Philippines6.848.335.716.674.389.12Flawed democracy
54 Hungary6.849.176.074.446.887.65Flawed democracy
56 Suriname6.779.176.435.005.008.24Flawed democracy
57 Tunisia6.727.006.077.786.885.88Flawed democracy
58 Serbia6.719.175.366.675.007.35Flawed democracy
59 Romania6.689.175.715.005.008.53Flawed democracy
60 Dominican Republic6.678.755.715.006.257.65Flawed democracy
61 El Salvador6.649.176.074.445.008.53Flawed democracy
62 Mongolia6.629.175.715.005.008.24Flawed democracy
62 Colombia6.629.177.143.894.388.53Flawed democracy
64 Lesotho6.598.255.366.675.637.06Flawed democracy
65 Peru6.589. democracy
66 Mexico6.558.336.077.224.386.76Flawed democracy
67 Hong Kong6.504.335.715.567.509.41Flawed democracy
68 Malaysia6.436.927.865.566.255.59Flawed democracy
69 Sri Lanka6.427.836.795.006.885.59Flawed democracy
70 Moldova6.357.924.296.674.388.53Flawed democracy
71 Paraguay6.338.335.715.004.388.24Flawed democracy
72 Namibia6.315.675.366.675.638.24Flawed democracy
73 Zambia6.287.925.363.896.887.35Flawed democracy
74 Singapore6.144.337.505.566.257.06Flawed democracy
75 Senegal6.087.925.364.445.637.06Flawed democracy
76 Guyana6.057.925.365.564.387.06Flawed democracy
77 Papua New Guinea6.036.926.073.895.637.65Flawed democracy
78 Macedonia6.027.334.646.114.387.65Flawed democracy
79 Montenegro6.017.925.715.004.387.06Flawed democracy
80 Guatemala5.927.926.073.894.387.35Hybrid regime
81 Albania5.917.004.365.565.007.65Hybrid regime
82 Georgia5.888.674.295.565.005.88Hybrid regime
83 Ecuador5.878.254.645.004.387.06Hybrid regime
84 Honduras5.848.755.713.894.386.47Hybrid regime
85 Bolivia5.757.005.365.003.757.65Hybrid regime
86 Bangladesh5.737.425.075.004.386.76Hybrid regime
87 Benin5.726.925.714.445.635.88Hybrid regime
88 Ukraine5.705.833.936.675.007.06Hybrid regime
88 Mali5.707.423.934.446.256.47Hybrid regime
90 Fiji5.694.585.716.675.635.88Hybrid regime
91 Tanzania5.587. regime
92 Malawi5.556.584.294.446.256.18Hybrid regime
93 Kyrgyzstan5.337.833.295.565.005.00Hybrid regime
93 Kenya5.334.335.006.675.635.00Hybrid regime
95 Nicaragua5. regime
96 Uganda5.225.673.574.446.256.18Hybrid regime
97 Turkey5.126.675.365.005.632.94Hybrid regime
98 Thailand5.094.503.935.565.006.47Hybrid regime
99 Venezuela5.006.083.935.004.385.59Hybrid regime
100 Liberia4.957.830.795.565.005.59Hybrid regime
101 Bhutan4.938.335.362.784.383.82Hybrid regime
102 Lebanon4.864.422.147.784.385.59Hybrid regime
103 Madagascar4.855.502.865.565.634.71Hybrid regime
104 Bosnia and Herzegovina4.836.502.933.894.386.47Hybrid regime
105   Nepal4.773.924.294.445.635.59Hybrid regime
106 Burkina Faso4.704.424.294.445.634.71Hybrid regime
107 Morocco4.664.754.643.895.634.41Hybrid regime
108 Nigeria4.626.084.293.335.004.41Hybrid regime
109 Mozambique4.604.423.575.565.633.82Hybrid regime
110 Palestine4.574.752.147.784.383.82Hybrid regime
111 Sierra Leone4.556.581.862.786.255.29Hybrid regime
112 Pakistan4.406.005.712.782.505.00Hybrid regime
113 Cambodia4.273.175.713.335.004.12Hybrid regime
114 Myanmar4.143.173.574.446.882.65Hybrid regime
115 Iraq4.084.330.077.224.384.41Hybrid regime
116 Armenia4.004.332.864.442.505.88Hybrid regime
117 Mauritania3.963.
118 Algeria3.953.002.213.896.254.41Authoritarian
119 Haiti3.944.752.212.223.756.76Authoritarian
120 Jordan3.863.583.933.894.383.53Authoritarian
121 Kuwait3.853.174.293.894.383.53Authoritarian
121 Niger3.856.251.142.784.384.71Authoritarian
123 Ethiopia3.830.003.576.115.633.82Authoritarian
124 Gabon3.763.002.214.445.004.12Authoritarian
125 Comoros3.714.332.214.443.753.82Authoritarian
126 Cameroon3.662.003.573.895.003.82Authoritarian
127 Belarus3.621.753.573.896.252.65Authoritarian
128 Vietnam3.530.003.933.896.882.94Authoritarian
129 Cuba3.521.754.643.894.382.94Authoritarian
130 Togo3.414.001.142.785.004.12Authoritarian
131 Angola3.350.923.215.004.383.24Authoritarian
132 Ivory Coast3.310.003.213.895.633.82Authoritarian
132 Russia3.312.672.865.002.503.53Authoritarian
134 Egypt3.183.002.863.333.752.94Authoritarian
134 Qatar3.180.003.932.225.634.12Authoritarian
136 Guinea3.143.500.434.444.382.94Authoritarian
136 People's Republic of China3.140.004.643.336.251.47Authoritarian
138 Swaziland3.090.922.862.225.633.82Authoritarian
139 Rwanda3.070.835.002.224.382.94Authoritarian
140 Kazakhstan3.060.502.144.444.383.82Authoritarian
141 Zimbabwe3.050.502.003.895.633.24Authoritarian
142 Oman3.040.003.932.784.384.12Authoritarian
143 Gambia2.971.333.932.225.002.35Authoritarian
144 Republic of the Congo2.911.672.863.333.752.94Authoritarian
145 Djibouti2.900.422.503.335.632.65Authoritarian
146 Bahrain2.791.253.212.784.382.35Authoritarian
147 Afghanistan2.772.501.143.892.503.82Authoritarian
148 United Arab Emirates2.750.003.572.225.002.94Authoritarian
149 Azerbaijan2.710.502.143.333.753.82Authoritarian
150 Burundi2.490.500.433.895.002.65Authoritarian
151 Sudan2.370.001.793.895.001.18Authoritarian
151 Eritrea2.370.002.141.676.881.18Authoritarian
153 Libya2.
154 Yemen2.240.500.364.445.000.88Authoritarian
155 Laos2.
156 Iran2.160.002.863.333.131.47Authoritarian
157 Democratic Republic of the Congo2.110.920.712.784.381.76Authoritarian
158 Uzbekistan1.950.081.862.225.000.59Authoritarian
158 Tajikistan1.950.580.071.676.251.18Authoritarian
160 Guinea-Bissau1.931.670.002.783.132.06Authoritarian
160 Saudi Arabia1.930.002.862.223.131.47Authoritarian
162 Turkmenistan1.830.000.792.785.000.59Authoritarian
163 Equatorial Guinea1.770.000.792.224.381.47Authoritarian
164 Central African Republic1.571.330.001.672.502.35Authoritarian
165 Chad1.500.
166 Syria1.430.000.002.784.380.00Authoritarian
167 North Korea1.080.002.501.671.250.00Authoritarian

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Democracy index 2012: Democracy at a standstill" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  2. "Democracy index 2010". Blog. Direct Democracy UK. December 2010. Archived from the original on March 10, 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  3. 1 2 Laza Kekic, director, country forecasting services (15 November 2006). "The Economist Intelligence Unit's index of democracy" (PDF). The World in 2007. Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  4. e.g., "Inside the Authoritarian State: More State Than Nation: Lukashenko's Belarus", Dzmitry Yuran, Natalie Manayeva, and Oleg Manaev, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Fall/Winter 2011), page 93.
  5. 1 2 3 "Democracy index 2011: Democracy under stress". Economist Intelligence Unit. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  6. 1 2 3 Democracy Index 2015: Democracy in an age of anxiety
  7. "Index of Democracy 2008" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  8. "Democracy Index 2010: Democracy in retreat" (PDF). Economist Intelligence Unit. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  9. Democracy Index 2013, Democracy Index 2013, Democracy in limbo.
  10. Democracy Index 2014,

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