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Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being

Author

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  • John F. Helliwell
  • Haifang Huang
  • Shawn Grover
  • Shun Wang

Abstract

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 Poll. 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 delivery.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang & Shawn Grover & Shun Wang, 2014. "Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being," NBER Working Papers 20686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20686
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2008. "Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Department of Economics University of Siena 540, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    2. Alan B. Krueger, 2009. "Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number krue08-1, December.
    3. J. Ott, 2011. "Government and Happiness in 130 Nations: Good Governance Fosters Higher Level and More Equality of Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 102(1), pages 3-22, May.
    4. John Helliwell & Shun Wang, 2014. "Weekends and Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 389-407, April.
    5. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2013. "Did the Decline in Social Connections Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1033-1059, February.
    6. Helliwell, John & Layard, Richard & Sachs, Jeffrey, 2012. "World happiness report," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47487, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Alexander Pacek & Benjamin Radcliff, 2008. "Welfare Policy and Subjective Well-Being Across Nations: An Individual-Level Assessment," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 89(1), pages 179-191, October.
    8. Laura Langbein & Stephen Knack, 2010. "The Worldwide Governance Indicators: Six, One, or None?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 350-370.
    9. Jan Ott, 2010. "Good Governance and Happiness in Nations: Technical Quality Precedes Democracy and Quality Beats Size," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 353-368, June.
    10. John Helliwell & Haifang Huang & Shun Wang, 2014. "Social Capital and Well-Being in Times of Crisis," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 145-162, February.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2014-12-30 18:28:56

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    Cited by:

    1. Ward, George, 2015. "Is happiness a predictor of election results?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 61698, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. George Ward, 2015. "Is Happiness a Predictor of Election Results?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1343, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:253-275 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn & Tim Nash & Natasha Tursi, 2015. "Luxury car owners are not happier than frugal car owners," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 62(2), pages 121-141, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies

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