Democractic systems tap into the wisdom of the entire population and consider a wide range of opinions before policy is enacted. All voices are heard and thus there are competing ideas in which the best can come out and win. Authoritarian governments don't listen to the people and only impose the ideas they life and usually through brutal force.
This can be a difficult choice, as there have been some, truly, great monarchs, in the past, but most history books also show many examples, of monarchs and dictators, who cared, very little, about the needs or desires of the people, they were reigning over. During the reign of a great authoritarian leader, a country may display how the people may love their ruler, but once that ruler steps down or dies, there is no guarantee, that the one, who reigns, afterward, will be as benevolent. Democracy, at least, provides the people with the freedom, to voice their opinions, without fearing, that their opinions are in conflict, with an authoritarian ruler, who could, legally, decide that anyone who has a conflict, with the interest of the ruler, is a criminal and here is where persecution may be the result, of that conflict of opinions. In a democracy, heads of countries are limited, by the watchful eye of their people, who are free, to decide whether that ruler represents their best interests, or if another candidate could be a better leader, for their country.
Only a Dictatorship could transform poor third world countries into some of the most productive and fierce countries in terms of the economy and politics.
Sure, people's lives aren't great but all the government needs to do is a provide a good life for people and make their country strong.
A lot of the times when all else seems lost, a dictatorship is the only way to glory. A democratic institution can then takeover, the ones alive today are weak filled with uneducated decisions and poor performance. This is because institutions have moved away from the traditional values that made our ancestors great, with every passing generation, Democracy has gotten weaker.
The only scenario which Democracy > Dictatorship, is when efficiency is restored alongside a government which believes in traditional values, one that can also provide efficient advanced growth rate for the economy. Until then Dictatorship IS #1.