Chart of the week: Approval of US leadership slides

For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in approval ratings.

The global average approval of United States (US) leadership fell below approval of Chinese leadership for the first time in 2017.

This chart shows the approval rating for the leadership of China, Russia, the US and Germany all declined from 2008 to 2018.

While approval of domestic leadership has increased over the past decade with approval of a country’s own leaders increasing by an average of seven percentage points globally since 2011, the approval of external leadership, particularly the leadership of the most influential countries in the world, has fallen.

Since 2008, approval of US leadership has increased in four of the nine regions: Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and South America. It decreased in sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean, Russia and Eurasia and North America. Approval of US leadership has fallen in almost all regions since 2016.

The most dramatic decrease in US leadership approval was in sub-Saharan Africa, where approval of US leadership fell 22 percentage points over the past decade. The largest single country deteriorations occurred in Europe: Portugal, Belgium, and Norway, all recorded falls in confidence in US leadership of more than 40 percentage points. By contrast, approval increased most significantly in Benin, Israel, Niger, Nepal and Sierra Leone, rising by more than ten percentage points in these countries.

Approval of Chinese leadership varies considerably by region. It is highest in sub-Saharan Africa but has been steadily declining for the past eight years, falling from a high of 71 per cent in 2011, to just under 51 per cent in 2018. Falls in approval were also seen in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa. By contrast, European approval of China’s leadership increased by 13 percentage points, from 14 per cent in 2008 to 27 per cent in 2018. In Asia, approval increased most significantly in Taiwan and Mongolia, rising by 20 and 18 percentage points to 49 and 60 per cent approval, respectively. The greatest fall in approval was in Vietnam, dropping from 56 to just six per cent.