In January 2020, the Cambridge Centre for the Future of Democracy published its inaugural Global Satisfaction with Democracy 2020 report. The study analysed a global, novel data set combining 25 data sources, 3,500 country surveys, and 4 million respondents between 1973 and 2020, and found widespread democratic disillusionment, in particular in developed democracies.

This report draws upon an expanded and updated version of this dataset with 18 additional survey sources plus another half a million respondents, and moves on to examine one of the core debates in discussions on democratic legitimacy – youth opinions and the generational divide in perceptions of democratic performance.

Key findings:

  • Globally, youth satisfaction with democracy is declining – not only in absolute terms, but also relative to how older generations felt at the same stages in life
  • In developed democracies, a major contributor to youth discontent is economic exclusion
  • In the emerging democracies of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Europe, there are signs of transition fatigue
  • However, countries that have elected populist leaders have seen a recovery in youth satisfaction with democracy
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