Having immense material wealth is not the only indicator of prosperity. It involves a much deeper sense of joy from living peacefully and having hopes of a good – if not better – future. This is true for both individuals and the nations they belong to.
According to the 2018 Prosperity Index from the Legatum Institute, a country’s level of prosperity can be measured using nine pillars, including business environment, economic quality, personal freedom, safety and security, social capital, education, natural environment, health, and governance.
In this article, you will learn how the government directly affects you as well as your country’s ability to prosper, along with the different factors that can help determine if you are living under good governance.
Governance and Prosperity
Based on the Prosperity Index, Legatum considers governance as a material factor that can help determine the level of prosperity in a country. From the rule of law to the quality of regulation that affects economic growth, the manner with which a government handles public welfare is important for prosperity.
After seeing a sharp fall in the last four years, governance has improved significantly in different parts of the world. In fact, the London-based think tank revealed that this not only represents how the said prosperity pillar was able to rebound, but this can also be considered as its new peak since its all-time high in 2009.
The Index also revealed that there were improvements in governance in all regions in 2017, with countries from the Asia-Pacific demonstrating the quickest progress. Meanwhile, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the MENA regions saw weaker progress in the governance pillar of prosperity.
4 Pillars of Good Governance
Good governance can be challenging to define, but the task is not impossible. To measure the fairness, effectiveness, and level of accountability of governments all over the world, the Index used four aspects of governance that cover all the bases in terms of satisfying the needs of all citizens of a nation, with high hopes for a prosperous future.
1. Rule of Law
When the rule of law is in effect, the laws are applied to everyone in the country equally. Nations like Ethiopia, for example, saw the fastest improvement in the governance pillar of prosperity because everyone is subjected to the same societal rules with the same level of gravity. It also encompasses how well a government protects property rights and enforces contracts while allowing the people to challenge regulations, if necessary.
The rule of law can also be measured based on how fairly a government acts when using the power of the police and courts to protect the sovereign people, with the judiciary seen as a body independent from influence and prejudice. This helped make Ethiopia the fastest riser in the governance pillar in 2017.
Integrity in governance encompasses transparency and predictability of a government with little or no corruption involved. It can be affected by the level of political engagement as the sovereign people will have a hand in deciding who the right government leaders should be based on how they perceive the candidate’s sense of accountability for running the country.
For a government to be considered transparent, there must be an unhindered flow of information. This means that processes and institutions, along with data relevant to them, can be directly accessed by those concerned to allow constant monitoring. It will also foster a deeper understanding of how they work.
The reduction of corruption, on the other hand, propelled Belarus towards the distinction of being the best improver in all of Europe in the 2017 Index as the people perceived their government to be more trustworthy. This took place even as the nation found itself in the Bottom 20 in the governance pillar.
On the other hand, the people of Qatar saw their government as more corrupt during the 2018 Index compared to the previous year, making the Arab nation the fastest faller in the government integrity sub-pillar.
3. Participation in the Political Process
The people’s participation in the political process represents how well individuals should have active representation in crucial decision-making. To score high in this aspect, everyone must have a voice in the government, whether it is through intermediate institutions or direct communication.
Political participation is also associated with freedom of speech and association and covers the people’s right to suffrage, with confidence that the elections are held in all honesty. Women, in particular, should also be well-represented in the parliament to ensure that everyone’s interests are represented fairly.
4. Government Performance
Generally, a government’s performance can be assessed in terms of how well civil services are delivered and regulated. It can also be measured based on people’s confidence in the national government.
A combination of these factors can make or break the governance score of a country. For instance, the governance scores of Iran and Greece under this sub-pillar significantly dropped because both governments lost the confidence of their people. This happened despite the improvement in Iran’s government effectiveness and regulatory quality, making it a matter of the people’s perception.
A Final Word
The Legatum Institute sees the recovery of governance from a four-year low as an indicator of a boosted public confidence in governments around the world. This means that while there were still fallers across the globe, the general climate points towards accountable, fair, and effective governance. This then results in greater satisfaction among citizens who will, therefore, perceive that they lead more prosperous lives.