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Governance indicators : where are we, where should we be going ?

  • Kaufmann, Daniel
  • Kraay, Aart

Scholars, policymakers, aid donors, and aid recipients acknowledge the importance of good governance for development. This understanding has spurred an intense interest in more refined, nuanced, and policy-relevant indicators of governance. In this paper we review progress to date in the area of measuring governance, using a simple framework of analysis focusing on two key questions: (i) what do we measure? and, (ii) whose views do we rely on? For the former question, we distinguish between indicators measuring formal laws or rules'on the books', and indicators that measure the practical application or outcomes of these rules'on the ground', calling attention to the strengths and weaknesses of both types of indicators as well as the complementarities between them. For the latter question, we distinguish between experts and survey respondents on whose views governance assessments are based, again highlighting their advantages, disadvantages, and complementarities. We also review the merits of aggregate as opposed to individual governance indicators. We conclude with some simple principles to guide the refinement of existing governance indicators and the development of future indicators. We emphasize the need to: transparently disclose and account for the margins of error in all indicators; draw from a diversity of indicators and exploit complementarities among them; submit all indicators to rigorous public and academic scrutiny; and, in light of the lessons of over a decade of existing indicators, to be realistic in the expectations of future indicators.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4370.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2007
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4370
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  1. Mireille Razafindrakoto & François Roubaud, 2006. "Are international databases on corruption reliable? A comparison of expert opinion surveys and household surveys in sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers DT/2006/17, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  2. Charles Oman & Christiane Arndt, 2006. "Governance Indicators for Development," OECD Development Centre Policy Insights 33, OECD Publishing.
  3. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Aggregating governance indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2195, The World Bank.
  4. Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Eight Questions about Corruption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 19-42, Summer.
  5. Omar Azfar & Peter Murrell, 2009. "Identifying Reticent Respondents: Assessing the Quality of Survey Data on Corruption and Values," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 387-411, 01.
  6. Knack, Stephen, 2006. "Measuring corruption in Eastern Europe and Central Asia : a critique of the cross-country indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3968, The World Bank.
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