Shock! Good government improves wellbeing

Actually the magnitude of the effect is a bit of an eye-opener.

Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being
by John F. Helliwell, Haifang Huang, Shawn Grover, Shun Wang


This paper first reviews existing studies of the links between good
governance and subjective well-being. It then brings together the
largest available sets of national-level measures of the quality of
governance to assess the extent to which they contribute to
explaining the levels and changes in life evaluations in 157
countries over the years 2005-2012, using data from the Gallup World

The results show not just that people are more satisfied with their
lives in countries with better governance quality, but also that
actual changes in governance quality since 2005 have led to large
changes in the quality of life. For example, the ten-most-improved
countries, in terms of delivery quality changes between 2005 and
2012, when compared to the ten countries with most worsened delivery
quality, are estimated to have thereby increased average life
evaluations by as much as would be produced by a 40% increase in per
capita incomes.

The results also confirm earlier findings that the delivery quality
of government services generally dominates democratic quality in
supporting better lives. The situation changes as development
proceeds, with democratic quality having a positive influence among
countries that have already achieved higher quality of service

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9 years ago

We get it easy compared to most of history with poor governments. I sometimes wonder what people will think of our times in 1000 years from now when you look at historical population data in some of the big empires and it looks a sine wave as people died on mass and you read something like:”Whilst some of the population decline was due to an ongoing war, the majority is attributable to poor governance across a number of decades as the main dynasty collapsed”.

David Walker
9 years ago

I’m busy right now (and lazy too) so can someone tell me how robust are the authors’ tests for the direction of causality?

I’m referring particularly to the claim that “actual changes in governance quality since 2005 have led to large changes in the quality of life”. But assessments of any other claims are welcome too.