The World’s Best Governments
January 8, 2011 13 Comments
Politics might be little more than background noise to most Canadians, but you might be surprised to learn that Canada is one of the world’s 10 best-governed jurisdictions. So suggest numbers published online by the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators Project.
Since 1996, the Worldwide Governance Indicators Project, headed by Daniel Kaufmann of the Brookings Institution, Aart Kraay of the World Bank Development Economics Research Group and Massimo Mastruzzi of World Bank Institute, have been tracking the performance of the world’s countries and autonomous regions in six areas of performance: giving citizens a voice in how the place is run and in being accountable to them, political stability, overall government effectiveness, quality of regulation, rule of law and control of corruption.
In each of these six areas, the Project assigns each country or autonomous region a score of up to 100. As the following table of the world’s 25 best-governed nations shows, Canada ranked 10th overall as of the Project’s latest update on the state of the world’s governments, released in 2009. Nordic countries — Finland, Denmark and Sweden — dominated the top three spots while the rest of the top 10 spots were dominated by other smaller northern European countries, aside from New Zealand in fifth place.
For simplicity, numerical scores have been converted into letter grades as follows:
- A+ (97-100)
- A (93-96)
- A- (90-92)
- B+ (87-89)
- B (83-86)
- B- (80-82)
- C+ (77-79)
- C (73-76)
- C- (70-72)
- D+ (67-69)
- D (63-66)
- D- (60-62)
- F (below 60)
Canada’s only significant shortcoming was in government stability, though even here we finished with a respectable 85 out of 100, still good enough for a ‘B’ grade.
Britain — on whose model of government Canada’s is based — also faced shortcomings on political stability, scoring only 55 out of 100, earning it an ‘F’ in this regard and preventing it from enjoying a higher rank given its excellent scores in other areas.
The United States was also held back by a poor score on political stability (59 out of 100, which earned it an ‘F’), causing it to fall just short of the Top 25 with a 28th place finish despite earning more respectable Bs in most other aspects of government and one A-minus on rule of law.
The worst-governed countries included Somalia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Congo and Zimbabwe, all of which earned average scores of less than 5 out of 100.
Of the 213 jurisdictions measured, only the top eight percent — home to a mere three percent of the world’s population — merited an overall grade of A- or better. Sixty-two percent of jurisdictions earned a failing grade overall, and 43 percent of places failed in all six areas measured.
Lesson learned: If you’re lucky enough to live in Canada, you’ve got it pretty good. But if you ever want advice on how to run a really good government, call Finland.