The Berggruen Governance Index (BGI), a study of 134 countries over 20 years, shows it takes more than wealth to provide for the general welfare.
Albania - Algeria - Angola - Argentina - Armenia - Australia - Azerbaijan - Bangladesh - Belarus - Belgium - Bolivia - Botswana - Brazil - Bulgaria - Burkina Faso - Cameroon - Canada - Chile - China - Colombia - Congo (Brazzaville) - Congo (Kinshasa) - Costa Rica - Côte d’Ivoire - Croatia - Cuba - Cyprus - Czechia - Denmark - Dominican Republic - Ecuador - Egypt - El Salvador - Estonia - Ethiopia - Finland - France - Gabon - Gambia - Germany - Ghana - Greece - Guatemala - Guinea - Guinea-Bissau - Guyana - Haiti - Honduras - Hong Kong - Hungary - Iceland - India - Indonesia - Iran - Iraq - Ireland - Israel - Italy - Jamaica - Japan - Jordan - Kazakhstan - Kenya - Kuwait - Latvia - Lebanon - Liberia - Libya - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Madagascar - Malawi - Malaysia - Mali - Mexico - Moldova - Mongolia - Morocco - Mozambique - Myanmar (Burma) - Namibia - Netherlands - New Zealand - Nicaragua - Niger - Nigeria - Norway - Oman - Pakistan - Panama - Papua New Guinea - Paraguay - Peru - Philippines - Poland - Portugal - Qatar - Romania - Russia - Saudi Arabia - Senegal - Serbia - Sierra Leone - Singapore - Slovakia - Slovenia - Somalia - South Africa - South Korea - Spain - Sri Lanka - Sudan - Suriname - Sweden - Switzerland - Syria - Tanzania - Thailand - Togo - Trinidad & Tobago - Tunisia - Turkey - Uganda - Ukraine - United Arab Emirates - United Kingdom - United States - Uruguay - Venezuela - Vietnam - Yemen - Zambia - Zimbabwe
“The Berggruen Governance Index presents a new approach to evaluating good governance. Understanding the relationships among the accountability of governments to their people, the capacity of the state to act, and the successful meeting of public needs, is crucial for understanding the present and future of governance across the world.”
Introducing the Governance Triangle
The BGI analyzes the relationship between democratic accountability, state capacity, and quality of life. The BGI research team describes this phenomenon as the Governance Triangle.
The Governance Triangle helps us understand why some countries are better managed and enjoy higher quality of life than others. Trends uncovered in the index generally indicate that a high quality of democracy and a strong state capacity together lead to a higher quality of life.
Simply put, governance matters.
Quality of Democracy refers to accountability: checks and balances between institutions; the ability of citizens to hold the state accountable through elections; and societal accountability, meaning the extent to which civil society organizations and media outlets have the capacity to constrain the use of political power.
Quality of Government refers to state capacity, the ability of state institutions to reach three primary goals: the generation of revenue (fiscal capacity), the organization of collective action (coordination capacity), and the delivery of policies (delivery capacity).
Quality of Life is a measure of public goods, goods and services from which citizens of a state cannot be excluded and for which citizens do not have to compete with other citizens. We also include quasi-public goods, i.e., those such as basic medical care or education for which there is partial exclusion and competition. We distinguish between three types of public goods: social public goods, economic public goods, and environmental public goods.
Governments are stumbling around the world. The impacts of climate change are worsening after years of slow and ineffective action. UNICEF estimates 24 million schoolchildren now at risk of dropping out of school after many nations' disjointed and inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Distrust of government—and each other—continues to increase. In this climate of dramatic upheaval and uncertainty, the BGI offers a novel perspective that underscores the necessity for nations to have a high level of both integrity and effectiveness.
Traditionally, it’s been assumed that transparency, accountability and the rule of law are the most important aspects of good governance. But, without strong state capacity, democracy is not sufficient to create the necessary conditions for well-being.
“Democracy alone can't create the conditions for well-being; state capacity is a crucial mediator between democratic institutions and the delivery of public goods.”
A quick look at the relationship between democracy and government capacity in South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, and the United States illustrates the strength of the interrelationship among the three sides of the governance triangle.
The Fallacy of Democracy
The Fallacy of Autocracy
A Story of Accountability
GDP is Not Enough to Save the US
From Democratic Backsliding
Our Global Future
How Governance Affects Human Well-Being and Its Impact on Our Ability To Effectively Address Emerging Global Crises
With COVID-19, climate change, a shaky global economy, and heightened levels of conflict, the world is arguably facing greater challenges than it has in decades. Governance is crucial for determining how these challenges will impact the lives of people around the globe. With new and increasingly daunting threats to democracy, state entities, and well-being emerging every day, accurate evaluation of governance is essential for sound decision making.
The Berggruen Governance Index's Governance Triangle provides a fresh understanding of what makes governments work and how they can enable a more resilient future for their people.
Photos: Osman Rana, Ryoji Iwata, Hush Naidoo Jade Photography, Steve Knutson, Jon Tyson, Vaido, Marco Rota, © Venmaps, Yosh Ginsu, Mike Stott, Jacques Nel, John-Paul Henry, Kyle Winkle, Jeff Ackley, UnicusX, J Brarymi, William F. Santos, Natee K. Jindakum, Felipe Correia, Phototreat, ATW Media, Sandra van der Steen, Amani Nation, Ian Macharia, Lorenzo Create, Simon Libz, Daniel Walther, Colin Lloyd, Leroy Skalstad, Library of Congress, Seshadri Sarkar, Daniel Rudenko, Andrey Gatash, Tom Parsons