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Governance and Prosperity across the world

Solène Dengler |

The past years of turmoil in the Middle East as well as anti-austerity protests in Europe and other on-going struggles for freedom of expression and political participation remind us of the importance of stable, transparent, and accountable government.

In light of this, the extent to which we can measure and track governance around the world is useful as it provides us with data to assess the progress (or lack thereof) that countries are making. The Governance sub-index from the Legatum Prosperity Index™ measures countries’ performance in three areas: effective and accountable government, fair elections and political participation, and rule of law.

The Prosperity Index measures eight distinct areas of national prosperity including health, the economy, and education. The diagram shows that, globally, over the last five years, each of the eight areas has seen improvements. Put simply, the world is becoming more, not less prosperous.

Governance and Safety & Security are the categories that have improved the least since 2009. Given the recent political upheaval in many MENA countries, it is unsurprising that this is the region which has witnessed the biggest decline in the Governance sub-index since 2009. Government effectiveness, rule of law, regulation quality, and citizens’ confidence in the judicial system have dropped over the last five years in the region.

Tunisia registers the biggest drop, globally, in the Governance sub-index with notably 25% more people  perceiving business and government as corrupt, 48% less people having confidence in the government and 33% less people satisfied with efforts to address poverty in the country than they did four years ago.

Amongst the top 5 improvers in the last five years, worldwide, in the Governance category were Trinidad and Tobago (1st), Rwanda (4th) and China (5th). These three countries were also amongst the top 20 improvers in terms of overall prosperity (18th, 2nd and 9th respectively). Trinidad has improved in almost all variables related to Governance, most notably in confidence in the military, the government, and elections as well as an increase in the separation of powers where the country reached the highest possible score in 2013. In China and Rwanda, separation of powers and regulation quality has increased while perceptions of corruption have been considerably reduced from 2010 to 2013, with 28% less people in China and 32% less in Rwanda perceiving business and governments as corrupt.