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Winners and Losers

Which Countries are Successful and Why?

Matt Qvortrup

The aim of this short book is to understand which countries do well on key indicators and why. After a short philosophical and historical survey of the literature to put the book into context, the Better-Place Index is developed. This is subsequently tested against a number of policy variables, such as levels of taxation, immigration, and democratic institutions, and other measures. The book provides statistical evidence that these factors are correlated with higher scores on the Better Place Index.

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Famous Last Words


When I first presented these findings at an on-line conference for the Academic Council of the United Nations, the organisers told me it was a bit too abstract.

In my abstract, I had written that I would use multivariate regression analysis and measure the importance of the different factors using b-variables. And, I have to admit, that does sound a bit daunting for the uninitiated.

Basically, b-variables enable you to measure which factors are important. The higher the number, the more important.

So, I made a drawing, which I kept. It looks like this …. And, no, I have not decided to take up abstract art!

Figure 5.1:Graphic Representation of Factors (B-Variables)

←127 | 128→Basically, the arrows show some of the factors that are important for making a ‘better place’.

For example, the fat black arrow shows that there is a massive negative relationship between having a presidential system and scoring highly on the BPI.

The other arrows, however, are positive; more women MPs, immigration, high taxation and having an electoral system based on proportional representation are positives. No one at the UN conference objected – perhaps because they rather liked these findings. However, there were grumbles when I mentioned that multi-ethnic societies fare poorly.

That is the nature of writing about policy and politics. People like to be confirmed in their preestablished opinions. Changing your mind is not easy. Nevertheless, if democracy is to...

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