We have just published a set of papers for our latest topic, Governance and Institutions.
Everyone agrees that having better governments â€“ ones that deliver services efficiently, are less corrupt, and uphold the rule of law â€“ is better than having bad governments. Indeed in a survey of more of than 7 million people, â€˜an honest and responsive governmentâ€™ was fourth in the list of peopleâ€™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 doesnâ€™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% â€“ what could look like a moderate success. However, all the countries the World Bank didnâ€™t help had similar success and failure rates â€“ suggesting that the World Bank programs had made no difference.
That is why proposed targets like â€œSubstantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its formsâ€ sound great, but are essentially well-meaning slogans with little content.
Governance and Institutions
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
Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms
One target is worth pursuing: â€˜provide legal identity for all, including registering all birthsâ€™. While this seems overly simple â€“ 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 www.post2015consensus.com/governance-and-institutions
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.
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.