Europe has been the “frayed limb” of American leadership for years, a new study shows.
The study, published this week in a new book by political scientists Joshua Putnam, Stu Rothenberg and Joseph Lenski, finds that support in the United States for democracy—of which the world’s sixth-largest economy is a member—has declined sharply, while democratic decline in Europe has been steady over the past 30 years.
The study (“America and the Non-West: Real Democracy in Emerging Democracies”) pulls data from 39 countries and draws in to account for effects of globalization and the spreading of democracy within and outside Western Europe.
The writers used Amazon, Schott’s Facts, Public Opinion Strategies, the Guardian’s World Database, the World Bank’s Development Country Attitudes Surveys and World Values Surveys, a French survey from 20th century, to analyze trends in public opinion. The sample sizes were slightly smaller than the amount typically reported in Western outlets.
Putnam, the research director of the Program on Governance at Davidson College, conducted the analysis as part of a longer project, called “The U.S. Political Economy of Globalization,” in which he examined the impact of globalization on countries in the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Putnam wrote that his findings show “that the ‘free world’ is less free by a vast margin than it was.” He wrote that the average increase in happiness between 1990 and 2015 was 11 percent in the United States, 5 percent in Western Europe and just 1 percent in emerging democracies around the world.