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Democracy and Quality of Life

I want to craft a thesis that examines how liberal democracy improves quality of life. Democracy acts to center the public agenda on state actions that enhance life quality – and there is a plethora of data that demonstrates the robust relationship between democracy and quality of life [1].

For our purposes, we will evaluate democracy as consisting of five distinct features: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties [2]. We will evaluate quality of life by measuring how governments contribute to and support the wellbeing of citizens [3].

Data and analysis from The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Annual Democracy Index as well as its Annual Global Livability Index will help demonstrate the inescapable link between democracy and quality of life.

The Berggruen Governance Index provides ample evidence on how robust democracy yields high quality of life. Data from Freedom House and the Frasier Institute will also be useful.

The works of Amartya Sen will also help nourish my research. Mr. Sen postulates that governmental response to the acute suffering of people often depends on the pressure that is put on the government.

This is where the exercise of political rights (voting, criticizing and protesting) can make a real difference [4]. He uses India as an example ­– which is a case study I would like to use in my research. The Nordic countries also show us that democracy plays an increasingly strong role in explaining citizen life satisfaction [5].

Sources [1] Frey, R. Scott, and Ali Al-Roumi. "Political democracy and the physical quality of life: The cross-national evidence." Social Indicators Research 47, no. 1 (1999): 73-97.

[2] “Democracy Index 2020.” Economist Intelligence Unit.

[3] “The 2019 Berggruen Governance Index - Our Work.” Berggruen Institute, October 7, 2020.

[4] Sen, Amartya, 1933: Development as Freedom. New York: Anchor Books, 2000.

[5] Martela, Frank, Bent Greve, Bo Rothstein, and Juho Saari. "The Nordic exceptionalism: what explains why the Nordic Countries are constantly among the happiest in the world." JF Helliwell et. al., R. Layard, JD Sachs, & JE De Neve (Eds.), World Happiness Report (2020): 128-145.


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