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The Impact of Quality of Government as Impartiality: Theory and Evidence

By Jan Teorell


In this paper I argue that Rothstein and Teorell’s (2008) concept of impartiality helps to integrate four conspicuously disparate strands in the literature on consequences of government institutions: the literatures on corruption and social capital, growth and economic development, bureaucratic quality and civil war, and on subjective wellbeing and happiness. Second, I present some original data on the impartiality of government institutions in 52 countries across the globe, based on a web-based expert poll with public administration scholars. I then perform cross-country tests of the predictions of the theoretical model, showing that impartial institutions affect institutional trust, economic growth, and individual-level happiness. Although less robustly so, impartiality is also related to stocks of social capital and the absence of civil war. With few exceptions, the relationships between impartiality and societal outcome variables are on par with those of the Worldwide Governance Indicators

Year: 2009
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