Democracy index

of the Economist Intelligence Unit

A ranking of most of the world's nations by the research group of the respected journal, The Economist. It is intended to reflect a rather nuanced view of how democratic a nation is. The ranking is based on yes or no (sometimes, yes, maybe or no) assessments on a variety of attributes, which can be grouped as

Each of the reports cited below include an extensive discussion of the methodology.

In 2008, Sweden, Norway and Iceland were the top three, and North Korea, Chad and Turkmenistan the bottom three. But the value of such an index lies not so much in the rankings, as in calling attention to slow changes. The biennial updates make this possible.


Obviously, the Economist’s website is the best place to look for more information. You might begin here:

The rankings for 2006:

The rankings for 2008:

Heather K. Gerken.
The Democracy Index.
Princeton University Press, 2009.

This is not a discussion of the Economist Intelligence Unit's index, but of the usefulness of such an index in general, particularly in the United States.

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