World Bank Reports No Improvement In Governance

The World Bank has released the results of a 10-year report on worldwide governance. It shows that while a number of countries are making progress in improving governance and fighting corruption, on average "the quality of governance around the world has not improved much around the world over the past decade".


The report looks at the period from 1996 to 2006 and covers 212 countries and territories. Data was collected from thousands of respondents, as well as from experts in the private, NGO and public sectors.

Between 1998 and 2006, Kenya, Niger and Sierra Leone have improved in the area of Voice and Accountability, while Algeria and Liberia have strengthened their Rule of Law. Angola, Libya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Algeria have made improvements in Political Stability and Tanzania has shown gains on Control of Corruption.

Emerging economies like Slovenia, Chile, Botswana, Estonia, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Costa Rica score higher on key dimensions of governance than industrialized countries such as Greece or Italy.

In comparison with the countries that have done well, a similar number have experienced deterioration in a number of governance dimensions, including Zimbabwe, Cote D'Ivoire, Belarus and Venezuela. In many other countries no significant change in either direction is apparent.
The World Bank Institute measures good governance using six components:

Voice and Accountability – measuring the extent to which a country's citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.

Political Stability and Absence of Violence – measuring perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilised or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including terrorism.

Government Effectiveness – measuring the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's commitment to such policies.

Regulatory Quality – measuring the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development.

Rule of Law – measuring the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence.

Control of Corruption – measuring the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests. 

An improvement in governance can have a dramatic effect on many facets of life in a country. In developing countries, "such improvements in governance are critical for aid effectiveness and for sustained long-run growth", according to one of the authors of the report, Daniel Kaufmann, director of global programs at the World Bank Institute. Lack of good governance results in people in developing countries having to bribe officials for public services, or government contracts going to those who pay the most. “Bribery around the world is estimated at about US $1 trillion dollars, and the burden of corruption falls disproportionately on the bottom billion people living in extreme poverty,” according to Kaufmann.

Governance affects many development issues such as infant mortality, illiteracy and inequality. Good governance has been found to significantly enhance the effectiveness of development assistance in general, according to the report. With improved governance, humanitarian aid can be much more effective. According to the World Bank, 10 years of research show that improved standards of living are largely the result of improved governance, and not the other way around. When governance is improved by one standard deviation, infant mortality declines by two-thirds and incomes rise about three-fold in the long run.