I attended a good lecture last week by Daniel Kaufmann, who showed up at SAIS to speak about the new version of the World Governance Indicators approximately an hour after they’d been released to the public. His central point invoked the utility of triangulating governance data from multiple sources, and emphasized the need to keep data use transparent by including margins of error:
All measures of governance and the investment climate are unavoidably imprecise. The WGI capture this imprecision by showing margins of error with countries scores that capture the statistically-likely range of values of governance. These margins of error reflect the extent of agreement among the underlying data sources: when data sources tend to agree, the margins of error are smaller, and when they disagree, margins of error are larger. (source)
That said? Playing with the indicators online is even more interesting than hearing about how they were compiled. Check out the differences in the quality of regulations in the 10 largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa:
Also interesting are cross-country comparisons on all six main indicators, such as this interesting graph of governance in Rwanda and Burundi. (You know you’re doing badly on the voice & accountability side when even Burundi beats you.)
Go have fun playing with the indicators – and check out Kaufmann’s blog, the Kaufmann Governance Post, while you’re at it.