Press release

Quality of life and governance are improving worldwide, according to Berggruen Governance Index

Study by Hertie School, UCLA Luskin School, Berggruen Institute examines links between quality of life, government and democracy in 134 countries over 20-year period.

Berlin, 30 September 2022. The quality of governance, democracy and quality of life have improved worldwide, according to the Berggruen Governance Index – a joint project of the Berggruen Intitute and the University of California, Los Angeles – which examines these dimensions in 134 countries be-tween 2000 and 2019. The index found that the greatest improvements over the 20-year period can be seen in several African countries, while, in contrast, the situation in the USA deteriorated more than any other major industrialised country since 2000. The results of the index will be presented for the first time in Germany on Friday evening at the Hertie School.

"The results show that it is too early to sing a swan song for democracy and good governance," says Helmut K. Anheier, Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School and the index’s principal investigator. “Although democracies in particular are under pressure worldwide, the index shows that quality of life, quality of government and quality of democracy go hand in hand. Indeed, quality of life has also im-proved worldwide over the past 20 years in terms of provision of public goods, such as education and healthcare."

African countries on the rise

The index shows that ten countries – Kenya, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso and Guinea – have seen the greatest improvements in quality of life since 2000. When it comes to good governance – which the authors define as a state’s ability to implement rules or react to challenges, such as pandemics or natural disasters, with the help of the administration – these African countries also show positive developments. Tunisia, Gambia and Kenya are among the countries that have made the greatest strides in this area. In terms of the quality of de-mocracy, only in African countries have indicators improved significantly. In an absolute comparison, however, African countries tend to be well behind European and Asian countries in all three categories.

The decline of the USA 

Almost mirroring Africa's rise is the decline of the USA, the index reports. "The USA is still in first place in many categories, but the trend is clearly negative,” says Helmut Anheier. “This is alarming for one of the world’s largest democracies and a country that is, for many, the model."

According to the index, the USA is the only major western democracy where the data shows that both good governance and the quality of democracy have suffered dramatically. In both cases, the country is moving toward mediocrity. The authors note that significant factors in this decline include the deterio-ration of healthcare and inconsistent taxation.

Further materials


Prof. Helmut K. Anheier
e-mail: anheier[at]hertie-school[dot]org
Tel.: 030 259 219 113

Background information

The Berggruen Governance Index is a joint project of the Berggruen Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prof. Dr. Helmut K. Anheier, Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School, is the principal investigator of the index. The 2022 Berggruen Governance Index has examined the varied performances of countries with a conceptual framework that incorporates democratic accountability (quality of democracy) and state capacity (quality of governance) as key factors of public goods provision (quality of life). Over the span of 20 years, the index analysed 134 countries across three main indices and nine sub-indices to examine the relationship between quality of democracy, quality of government and quality of life.

The Hertie School in Berlin prepares exceptional students for leadership positions in government, business, and civil society. The school offers master’s programmes, executive education and doctoral programmes, distinguished by interdisciplinary and practice-oriented teaching, as well as outstanding research. Its extensive international network positions it as an ambassador of good governance, characterised by public debate and engagement. The school was founded in 2004 by the Hertie Foundation, which remains its major funder. The Hertie School is accredited by the state and the German Science Council.


Press contact

Benjamin Stappenbeck
Director of Communications, Hertie School

+49 (0)30 259 219 113