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)!


Is Freedom on the March Worldwide? Freedom House says “no”.

In a previous post I introduced the NGO, Freedom House, and included a world map of freedom based on the results of that organization’s analysis of the level of democracy worldwide in the last year. The map, of course, is static, and tells us nothing about the dynamics of democratization worldwide. In other words, compared to the year before, is the world more or less free? Well, the news is not good. Here are some highlights (or better yet, lowlights) from the press release:

The year 2007 was marked by a notable setback for global freedom, Freedom House reported in a worldwide survey of freedom released today.

The decline in freedom, as reported in Freedom in the World 2008, an annual survey of political rights and civil liberties worldwide, was reflected in reversals in one-fifth of the world’s countries. Most pronounced in South Asia, it also reached significant levels in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. A substantial number of politically important countries whose declines have broad regional and global implications—including Russia, Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Venezuela—were affected.

Complete survey results reflect global events during 2007. A package of charts and graphs and an explanatory essay are available online.

As for specifics:

    The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2007 stood at 90, representing 46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries did not change from the previous year’s survey.

      • The number of countries qualifying as Partly Free stood at 60, or 18 percent of the world population. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two from the previous year, as Thailand and Togo both moved from Not Free to Partly Free.
      • Forty-three countries were judged Not Free, representing 36 percent of the global population. The number of Not Free countries declined by two from 2006. One territory, the Palestinian Authority, declined from Partly Free to Not Free.
      • The number of electoral democracies dropped by two and totals 121. One country, Mauritania, qualified to join the world’s electoral democracies in 2007. Developments in three countries—Philippines, Bangladesh and Kenya—disqualified them from the electoral democracy list.

      We’ll address electoral democracies, and other “hybrid regimes” just before the mid-term break.

      Freedom House

      Freedom House is an NGO that is prominent in the global movement to expand democracy and economic freedom worldwide. The organization also publishes the well-known (and well-regarded) Freedom in The World rankings annually. These rankings evaluate the countries of the world along various dimensions related to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. A composite score for each country is then tabulated and each country is placed into one of three categories–free, partly free, not free–as a result. Which color corresponds to which category, do you suppose? Their website provides a vast array of data and resources–and strong analytical country descriptions–on phenomena broadly related to democracy.
      (Click on link for large image)