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Los Angeles (DNA) — An overwhelming majority of the world’s people live in countries that lost ground on measurable benchmarks of democratic accountability from 2010-2021, according to a global index released Wednesday by an international group of governance researchers. Among the world’s 12 most populous countries, with 4.77 billion people — nearly 59 percent of humanity — all lost ground in the Democratic Accountability Index, a component of the 2024 Berggruen Governance Index (BGI).

Among the 12 biggest countries, India, China, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia and the Philippines all saw large declines of 8 to 18 points on the 100-point index. Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico and Japan had relatively marginal declines of 2 to 4 points.

Across all 145 countries ranked in the democracy index, the average score declined from 67 out of 100 in 2010 to 65 points in 2021. The global average had risen from 64 to 67 points during 2000-2010.

Ethiopia, the 13th biggest country with 107 million people, rallied on the democracy index, albeit from a low starting point, from 36 to 49 points. It is alone among the world’s 25 most populous countries to improve its democracy score from 2010-2021.

In a year that is likely to see record voter participation in elections worldwide, the 96-page report, titled «Democracy Challenged», was issued by the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which collaborated on the project with the Berggruen Institute, a think tank headquartered in Los Angeles, and the Berlin-based Hertie School.

The Democratic Accountability Index weighs the influence of citizens and institutions on governments, while the full report examines democratic accountability alongside two further indices on public goods and state capacity, with the goal to «better understand why some countries fare better than others at providing a high quality of life».

Amid stalled or deteriorating democratic accountability in many societies, most countries in recent decades have maintained or even improved delivery of public goods — employment, healthcare and education are examples — even in the face of headwinds such as the 2008 financial crisis and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic. Those gains have come in spite of overall stagnant scores for state capacity.

00:00:01 Broll - 2024 Berggruen Governance Index at UCLA
00:00:45 INTV Nils Gilman - CEO & EVP of the Berggruen Institute
00:02:04 INTV Nicolas Berggruen - Chairman and Founder of the Berggruen Institute
00:02:40 INTV Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris - Interim Dean at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
00:04:39 INTV Joseph Saraceno - Data scientist at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

16 May 2024