How many of the world’s inhabitants have become free since 1945?

One of the empirical facts of the post-WWII era has been the inexorable rise not only in the number of democratic states, but also in the number of the world’s denizens who reside in democracies. We’ve probably all seen the Freedom House world Maps of Freedom, which are published on an annual basis.

Freedom House World Map of Freedom 2014

That’s great for providing a quick visual idea of how many of the world’s states have democratic regimes. But, it doesn’t tell us how many of the world’s inhabitants live in democracies. This clever cartogram by Gleditsch and Ward does this. Cartograms bend and mis-shape world maps on the basis of the values of the underlying variable–in this case, population. What do you think? The map below shows a dramatic rise since 1945 in both the number of states and the number of the world’s citizens who live in democracies. You’ll note that this map is from 2002 data, and there have been some important changes, notably Russia’s slide back toward autocracy in the last decade or so. Also, look at how massive India and China are (population-wise)!


2 thoughts on “How many of the world’s inhabitants have become free since 1945?”

  1. As what you have pointed out about numbers of states and the people in there, it is quite interesting that India, China and Russia, relatively large countries in terms of size and population, they three are not free in countries (25%) and they probably make up most of the percentage of people that do not live freely (35%). It is sad that although 1/4 of countries in numbers live in not free but more than 1/3 of population is living under not free, I believe the population percentage is way more important than the countries percentage.

  2. Seeing this cartogram, I thought to the Zakaria reading that discusses the “sequence and timing of democratization” as significant.
    Seeing as Russia has in recent years taken large steps away from democracy, I wonder if their sequence of actions in an attempt to develop democracy are partly to blame for their challenges.

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