NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Quality of Goverment

Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, Robert Vishny

NBER Working Paper No. 6727
Issued in September 1998
NBER Program(s):   PE

We investigate empirically the determinants of the quality of governments in a large cross-section of countries. We assess government performance using measures of government intervention, public sector efficiency, public good provision, size of government, and political freedom. We find that countries that are poor, close to the equator, ethnolinguistically heterogeneous, use French of socialist laws, or have high proportions of Catholics or Muslims exhibit inferior government performance. We also find that the larger governments tend to be the better performing ones. The importance of historical factors in explaining the variation in government performance across countries sheds light on the economic, political, and cultural theories of institutions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6727

Published: Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 15, no. 1 (April 1999): 222-279

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