The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company which publishes the weekly newspaper ''The Economist''. The index is self-described as intending to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 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 categorises each country into one of four regime types: ''full democracies'', ''flawed democracies'', ''hybrid regimes'' and ''authoritarian regimes''. ''The Economist'' has published reports with updated versions of the Democracy Index for 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.


As described in the report, the democracy index is a weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted answers. Most answers are experts' assessments. 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 grouped into five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Each answer is converted to a score, either 0 or 1, or for the three-answer questions, 0, 0.5 or 1. With the exceptions mentioned below, within each category, the scores are added, 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 scored 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: #"Whether national elections are free and fair"; #"The security of voters"; #"The influence of foreign powers on government"; #"The capability of the civil servants to implement policies". The five category indices, which are listed in the report, are then averaged to find the overall score for a given country. Finally, the score, rounded to two decimals, 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 is placed on the public opinion and attitudes, as measured by surveys, but on the other hand, economic living standards are not weighted as one criterion of democracy (as seemingly some other investigators have done). The report is widely cited in the international press as well as in peer reviewed academic journals.


Full democracies are nations where civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are not only respected but also reinforced by a political culture conducive to the thriving of democratic principles. These nations have a valid system of governmental checks and balances, an independent judiciary whose decisions are enforced, governments that function adequately, and diverse and independent media. These nations have only limited problems in democratic functioning. Flawed democracies are nations where elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties are honoured but may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics). 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 with regular electoral frauds, preventing them from being fair and free democracies. These nations commonly have governments that apply pressure on political opposition, non-independent judiciaries, widespread corruption, harassment and pressure placed on the media, anaemic 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 is nonexistent or severely limited. These nations are often absolute monarchies or dictatorships, may have some conventional institutions of democracy but with meagre 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 censorship and suppression of governmental criticism are commonplace.

By regime type

The following table indicates the number of nations and the percentage of World population for each type of regime. Some microstates are not considered in the calculation.

By region

The following table lists the average score for each geographic area. The following table lists the number of countries in each of the four democracy classifications.

By country

The following table shows each nation's score over the years. The regions are assigned by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Score changes

The following table shows the original 2006 score and the changes in each new report. Changes of regime type are marked with background color.


The following table shows the five parameters that made up the score of each nation in 2020 and the changes that had occurred since 2019. Δ Rank is the change in ranking from the previous year, Δ Score is the change in the nation's overall score from the previous year.

Recent changes

In 2016, the United States was downgraded from a full democracy to a flawed democracy; its score, which had been declining for some years, crossed the threshold from 8.05 in 2015 to 7.98 in 2016. The report states that this was caused by a myriad of factors dating back to at least the late 1960s which have eroded Americans' trust in governmental institutions. The 2017 Democracy Index registered, at the time, the worst year for global democracy since 2010–11. Asia was the region with the largest decline since 2016. Venezuela was downgraded from a hybrid regime to an authoritarian regime. Australia (then ranked 8th) and Taiwan (then ranked 33rd) both legalised same-sex marriage in 2017. In China, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, further entrenched his power by writing his contribution to the Chinese Communist Party's ideology, dubbed Xi Jinping Thought, into the party's constitution. Moldova was downgraded from a flawed democracy to a hybrid regime as a result of problematic elections. By contrast, Armenia was re-upgraded from an authoritarian regime to a hybrid regime as a result of constitutional changes that shifted power from the presidency to parliament. In 2017, the Gambia was upgraded again from an authoritarian regime to a hybrid regime after Yahya Jammeh, who was president from 1996 to 2017, was defeated by Adama Barrow, an opposition candidate in the 2016 presidential elections. In 2019, France, Portugal and Chile were upgraded from flawed democracy to full democracy. In fact, this was not a new experience for the former two, which suffered from the eurozone crisis many years before. By contrast, Malta was downgraded from a full democracy to a flawed democracy. Thailand was upgraded again from its status as a hybrid regime to a flawed democracy. Algeria was upgraded again from an authoritarian regime to a hybrid regime. In 2020, Taiwan was upgraded from flawed democracy to full democracy following reforms in the judiciary, and soared to 11th position (just 2 positions below Australia) from its previous position at 33. Japan was also upgraded again to a full democracy, while both France and Portugal were once again relegated to flawed democracies. Algeria was downgraded again from a hybrid regime to an authoritarian regime. Democracy was dealt a major blow in 2020. Almost 70% of countries covered by the Democracy Index recorded a decline in their overall score, as most of them imposed lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to some arresting journalists and citizens accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation. The global average score fell to its lowest level since the index began in 2006.


The Democracy Index has been criticised for lacking transparency and accountability beyond the numbers. To generate the index, the Economist Intelligence Unit has a scoring system in which various experts are asked to answer 60 questions and assign each reply a number, with the weighted average deciding the ranking. However, the final 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.

See also

* Corruption Perceptions Index * Democracy-Dictatorship Index * Democracy promotion * Democracy Ranking * Freedom in the World * List of freedom indices


External links

The Economist Intelligence Unit's website

EIU Democracy Index main page
{{Politics country lists Category:Democracy Category:Research Category:International rankings Category:Economist Intelligence Unit