Does Governance Matter? Yes, No or Maybe: Some Evidence from Developing Asia


  • M.G. Quibria

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    • * Asian Development Bank, 6ADB Avenue, P.O. Box 789, Manila, Philippines, email: I would like to express my thanks, without implicating, to Sekhar Bono, Frank Harrigan, Rana Hasan, Tetsu Ito, Haider Khan, Arvind Mathur, Narhari Rao, Divesh Sharan, R. Swaminathan, Ajay Tandon, Ganesh Wignaraja, Xianbin Yao, Cherry Zafaralla and the anonymous referees, as well as the managing editor of this journal for helpful suggestions on an earlier version of the paper. I have also benefited from the comments of participants of the seminars in the Asian Development Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute and the University of the Philippines, where an earlier version of this paper was presented. Chickie Custodio cheerfully provided research and typing assistance, while Irene Estigog helped with data and computation. The opinions expressed in this paper are strictly personal.


This paper seeks to explore the relationship between economic growth and governance performance in Asian developing economies. This exploration yields some interesting conclusions. First, notwithstanding its tremendous economic achievements, the state of governance in Asia is not stellar by international comparison. Indeed, the majority of these countries seem to suffer from a governance deficit. Second, contrary to our expectations, data do not suggest any strong positive link between governance and growth: paradoxically, countries that exhibit surpluses in governance on average grew much slower than those with deficits. The paper ends with some conjecture about this apparent paradox.