In recent years, public-opinion scholars have raised concerns about declining satisfaction with democracy’s performance and, in some countries, eroding democratic support. While these trends raise questions regarding democratic stability, other scholars have suggested that measures of social liberalism offer a more optimistic picture. Global levels of social-liberal values are rising, they assert, and are correlated with past democratic transitions, signaling a bright future for democracy. But this article finds little evidence of a link between social liberalism and democratization—or of liberal values rising outside of existing democracies. While there are good reasons to envisage a future wave of democratic transitions, such global-values measures cannot inform their timing, location, or rationale.
Exchange: Why the Future Cannot Be Predicted
Issue Date January 2022
Page Numbers 147–55