Making Development Work - The Quality of Government Approach

127 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2017

See all articles by Bo Rothstein

Bo Rothstein

University of Gothenburg

Marcus Tannenberg

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 15, 2015


This report aims to summarize the results of research from the Quality of Government approach in terms of its importance for development and aid policy. Quality of Government (henceforth QoG) is understood as pertaining to the public institutions responsible for the implementation of public policies, i.e., the public administration and the judiciary. Qualitative as well as quantitative studies have shown that QoG factors, such as control of corruption, the rule of law, and administrative competence, have a strong positive impact on most standard measures of human well-being (e.g., infant mortality, life expectancy, and child poverty). QoG also has a positive impact on subjective factors, such as whether people state that they are satisfied with their lives, and if they perceive that they in general can trust other people in their society. The importance of QoG for human welfare becomes clear if compared with the effect that the quality of democracy has on the same measures. Such comparisons show that QoG has a significantly greater effect on human well-being than democracy has.One example of this is that authoritarian Communist China outperforms liberal-democratic India on virtually all standard measures of human well-being. This also applies when measuring the degree to which people in different countries perceive their government as legitimate. Survey-based studies show that while democratic rights are important for political legitimacy, QoG factors such as low corruption, the rule of law, and efficiency in the public administration have a greater significance on the extent to which people perceive their governments as legitimate. Added to this is another problematic result, namely that the introduction of democracy in a country shows not to be a safe cure against corruption and other forms of low QoG.

Keywords: Corruption, Institutions, Development, Aid

JEL Classification: O10, O38, 043

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Bo and Tannenberg, Marcus, Making Development Work - The Quality of Government Approach (December 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Bo Rothstein (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, SE 40530
+46317864599 (Fax)


Marcus Tannenberg

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30

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