19. Feb, 2020

Reversing the retreat of democracy: The case of Iceland

In recent decades, the decay of social capital in its several manifestations has become a serious, evidence-based concern, brilliantly captured by Robert Putnam ́s book title, Bowling Alone (2000). Signs of declining trust, increased inequality, stunted life expectancies, corruption on the rise, and democracy in retreat are evident in an increasing number of countries (e.g. Dustmann et al. 2017). The consequences are troubling, especially perhaps in the US. According to Gallup (2019), the proportion of its American respondents expressing confidence in Congress dropped from 35% in 1988 to 11% in 2019. Transparency International (2019) lowered the corruption perceptions index for the US from 78 in 2000 to 69 in 2019, well below Canada whose score is 77. Further, Freedom House (2019) lowered the democracy score of the US from 94 in 2010 to 86 in 2019 compared with Canada’s  score of 99 and Poland’s 84 in 2019.