In spite of widespread concerns across the globe about the future of democracy, public support for it remains strong, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year in 38 countries. And by one measure, the number of democratic nations around the world is at a postwar high.
As of the end of 2016, 97 out of 167 countries (58%) with populations of at least 500,000 were democracies, and only 21 (13%) were autocracies, both post-World War II records. The rest either exhibited elements of both democracy and autocracy (26%) or were not rated. Broadly speaking, the share of democracies among the world’s governments has been on an upward trend since the mid-1970s.
To track the spread of democracy around the globe, we used the ratings contained in the Center for Systemic Peace’s Polity IV dataset. Polity is a widely used resource in political science that analyzes and codes how political authority is …