1 October 2017

Last week, the World Bank, in association with the Brookings Institute, released the 2016 Worldwide Governance Indicators report.  This builds on the statistical series developed over the last 20 years, now incorporating individual and aggregated governance indicators for more than 200 countries (and territories) assessing six dimensions of governance. These are

  • Voice and Accountability
  • Political Stability and Absence of Violence
  • Government Effectiveness
  • Regulatory Quality
  • Rule of Law
  • Control of Corruption

The previous indicators were for 2011.  New Zealand ranked among the Top 10 (best scoring) countries on all six dimensions at that time.  It has maintained that position in the 2016 indicators.  The score for Voice and Accountability increased one point, Control of Corruption was unchanged, and the score for the other dimensions slipped one point.

The Tables below show New Zealand’s comparative ratings (these are my extract from the data sets) in 2011 and 2016.

Worldwide Governance Indicators 2011 – Ten top ranking countries (descending order)

Voice and Accountability Political Stability Government Effectiveness Regulatory Quality Rule of Law Controlling Corruption
Switzerland Liechtenstein Finland Denmark Finland Denmark
Norway Finland Denmark New Zealand Sweden New Zealand
Denmark New Zealand Sweden Luxembourg Denmark Sweden
Sweden Luxembourg New Zealand Netherlands New Zealand Finland
Luxembourg Switzerland Switzerland Sweden Norway Luxembourg
Liechtenstein Sweden Netherlands Singapore Netherlands Netherlands
Finland Iceland Norway Australia Luxembourg Norway
New Zealand Singapore Liechtenstein Finland Australia Australia
Netherlands Netherlands Australia Ireland Ireland Singapore
Iceland Denmark Luxembourg Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland


Worldwide Governance Indicators 2016 – Ten top ranking countries (descending order)

Voice and Accountability Political Stability Government Effectiveness Regulatory Quality Rule of Law Controlling Corruption
Norway Singapore Singapore Singapore Norway Finland
Sweden New Zealand (2nd=) Switzerland New Zealand (2nd=) Sweden New Zealand (1st=)
Finland Liechenstein Norway Netherlands Singapore Singapore
Netherlands Luxembourg Denmark Liechenstein Finland Sweden
Denmark Netherlands Finland Switzerland Switzerland Denmark
Switzerland Switzerland New Zealand Sweden New Zealand Norway
Liechenstein Iceland Netherlands Australia Denmark Australia
New Zealand Sweden Sweden Finland Netherlands Switzerland
Iceland Australia Liechtenstein Sweden Ireland Netherlands
Australia Finland Luxembourg Iceland Liechenstein Luxembourg


The indicators reflect more than 30 different data sources, and build on “the experiences and perceptions of thousands of experts and survey respondents worldwide”. The data sources include well-known surveys,  and numerous expert assessments produced by the private sector, non-government organisations, and public sector agencies.

The World Bank interest recognises that good governance is essential to national development.  “…Governance is, after all, the process by which governments are selected and replaced; it is about the policy choices they make and implement;  and it is about the respect of citizens and the state for the laws and traditions that govern their interactions.  Each of these aspects of governance matters for development, and so unsurprisingly rich countries on average rank higher in the WGI than poor countries do…”  What the indicators show however is that some developing and emerging countries such as Botswana, Costa Rica, and Uruguay rank higher, for example on Control of Corruption, than some western economies.

The interactive dataset on the WGI website enables detailed comparisons of governance developments within and among countries.