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Good Governance, State Capacity, and the Millennium Development Goals

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International development agencies argue that “good governance” is crucial to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but there are many ways to define and measure good governance. The paper begins by examining the World Bank’s minimal state conception of governance and then proposes an alternative approach based on strengthening state capacity. The paper tests this framework by developing a provisional Millennium Governance Index (MGI) for 126 countries. In comparative empirical analysis, the MGI has noticeably higher statistical correlations than the World Bank’s governance indicators on six out of seven MDGs even after controlling for per capita income levels.


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Affiliations: 1: Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver Denver, CO, Email:


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