Seriously, Anttech, do an honest and thorough comparison of modern-day democracies with their pre-democratic incarnations. That's the only way you're ever going to determine whether or not there has been progress. It's entirely possible that I'm wrong. Maybe European/American life in 1750 was much better than it is today. But if you think that is the case, present a case.
You're free to do this however you want, obviously, but these are some strictures that I would propose:
Only look at countries that have been democratic for at least 100 years. Compare stats today with stats from directly before these countries became democratic. Here is a short list of stats that I would personally consider indicative of quality of life:
- Life expectancy
- Literacy rates
- Availability of public education
- Infectious disease rates
- Child mortality rates
- GDP per capita
Some other things to look at might include the quality of life for minorities, the availability of aid for the very poor, mentally ill, orphans, financial aid for college students who do not have enough money to pay for their own education.