The nexus between democracy, government performance and well-being

Helmut Anheier leads 2019 Berggruen Governance Index research on 38 countries.

What is the relationship between the quality of a country’s democratic institutions, the performance of its government, and the well-being of its citizens? The research project Berggruen Governance Index, led by Hertie School Professor of Sociology Helmut Anheier, examines the “quality of governance” for 38 countries, as shown by the relationship between three indices measuring the quality of democracy, the quality of government and the quality of life.

The 2019 Berggruen Governance Index (the overall score) evaluates the countries via the three indices composed of 27 sub-indices. They are measured across a 14-year time span between 2004 and 2018. The countries represent about two-thirds of the global population and three-quarters of global GDP.

In Canada, the US, Australia and most countries in Western Europe the gaps between the three indices were nominal, showing that the quality of life for the most part did not lag behind or lead government performance or democracy. Other countries showed larger gaps between the three indices, even in some well-established democracies.

“There is a tacit assumption in the democratic world, that high levels of democracy will produce the best quality of life, but the index exposes deeper insights into the actual relationship between them and the importance of government competence and capacity,” the report says.  

A closer look at the sub-indices can offer insights into government competence and capacity. The index offers a flexible tool to identify strengths and weaknesses in democracy and government performance, and help diagnose and adjust policies accordingly.

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