Your excellency, Dear Sir / Madam,
We have just published a set of papers for our latest topic, Governance and Institutions. 
Everyone agrees that having better governments – ones that deliver services efficiently, are less corrupt, and uphold the rule of law – is better than having bad governments. Indeed in a survey of more of than 7 million people, ‘an honest and responsive government’ was fourth in the list of people’s priorities, with only education, healthcare and better jobs being rated higher.
It seems clear then, that the global community should set goals for more transparency, more democracy, more fundamental freedoms and less corruption?
Actually no, argues Mary Hilderbrand, from Texas A&M and Harvard University, in a recent paper. As reported by Reuters and multiple Latin American newspapers (e.g. La Prensa in Panama and Milenio in Mexico), most of the time, trying to improve governance doesn’t help at all. For example, a study of 80 countries where the World Bank had programs to improve governance showed that governance improved in 39% of countries but worsened in 25% – what could look like a moderate success. However, all the countries the World Bank didn’t help had similar success and failure rates – suggesting that the World Bank programs had made no difference.
That is why proposed targets like “Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms” sound great, but are essentially well-meaning slogans with little content.
Governance and Institutions
Target Benefit for every dollar spent
Provide legal identity for all, including registering all births More than $1
Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels Uncertain
Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels Uncertain
Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements Uncertain
Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms Uncertain

One target is worth pursuing: ‘provide legal identity for all, including registering all births’. While this seems overly simple – this target is measurable, clear and defined, so progress can be monitored. It is also likely to be indicative of a functioning and competent public service. 

There are also real benefits to each citizen of having a proper legal identity. It helps them to claim their legal rights and property rights. Elections become less vulnerable to corruption, and it helps for opening a bank account. 

You can read all of the reports at 

Here, Copenhagen Consensus Center has just released its latest research on Governance and Institutions targets for the post-2015 development agenda. Mary Hilderbrand, Senior Lectuer at Texas A&M University writes the main report, peer-reviewed in perspective papers by Aart Kraay, Economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank Matt Andrews, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School . Additionally, NGOs and stakeholders such as Seton Hall University and Epic Foundation present viewpoint papers concerning Hilderbrand's analysis. 
Best regards,
Bjorn Lomborg
PhD and Adjunct Professor
President of Copenhagen Consensus Center

PS. The Post-2015 Consensus project brings together 60 teams of economists with NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the targets with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the UN's post-2015 development goals. If you have questions about the project, send an email to Research Project Manager Brad Wong by replying to this email.
Each day on twitter we will be releasing the benefit-cost evaluation of a current UN OWG post-2015 target. Follow us to see how all 169 current targets rate according to leading economists.
Each day on twitter we will be releasing the benefit-cost evaluation of a current UN OWG post-2015 target. Follow us to see how all 169 current targets rate according to leading economists.
In a hurry?
Download the one page PDF summary here.

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