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The Good African Society Index

Abstract

This paper constructs a Good Society Index for 45 African countries, termed the Good African Society Index (GASI). The GASI consists of nine main indexes: (1) economic sustainability, (2) democracy and freedom, (3) child well-being, (4) environment and infrastructure, (5) safety and security, (6) health and health systems, (7) integrity and justice, (8) education, and (9) social sustainability and social cohesion. Each component is split into four sub-components for a total of 36 indicators. Tunisia ranks highest on the GASI, followed by Cape Verde and Botswana. Chad has the lowest GASI score, followed by Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire. The GASI is strongly related to the 2012 Human Development Index and Fragile States Index, to a lesser extent, GNI per capita.

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Notes

  1. Although earlier research attempted to define the Good Society as Social Capital, social capital is in fact rather one component that may contribute to the Good Society as opposed to being synonymous with the Good Society. This view is also supported by Anderson (2012a), who includes Social Capital as one of the factors that may positively affect the outcomes of a Good Society.

  2. The components are Work and Income Equality, Child Well-Being, Safety, Health, Non-violence, Integrity and Social Justice, Democracy and Freedom, and Compassion (Anderson 2011).

  3. Anderson’s (2012a) index components are Economic Sustainability, Child Well-Being, Safety, Health and Healthcare, Non-violence, Integrity and Justice, Civil Society, Compassion, Environmental Sustainability, Education, Social Sustainability, and Social Cohesion.

  4. Countries excluded due to data unavailability are Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, and South Sudan. Although data were available for Sudan, this country was not included since for some indicators it was necessary to use data prior to 2011 as well. With the split of Sudan into Sudan and South Sudan during 2011, any data pre-2011 include the current South Sudan as well.

  5. Though some sub-components are based on intuitive and theoretical reasoning, the various sub-components, and how they relate to the relevant primary component, are also supported by existing research. This research includes: Lewit and Mullahy (1994), Robst and Graham (1997), Banton (1999), Al-Marhubi (2000), Barro (1996), 2000, Drèze and Khera (2000), Raban and Ure (2000), Robinson (2002), Minujin and Delamonica (2003), Neumayer (2003), Weller and Singleton (2004), Frankenberg et al. (2005), Lerner and Schoar (2005), Méon and Sekkat (2005), Rivkin et al. (2005), Almqvist-Tangen and Axelsson (2006), Azarnert (2006), Comanor et al. (2006), Drury et al. (2006), Martin (2006), Holmberg (2007), Levine et al. (2007), Morapedi (2007), Blume (2008), de Kervasdoué (2008), Doucouliagos and Ulubaşoğlu (2008), Erdogdu (2008), Müller-Riemenschneider et al. (2008), Arkes and Klerman (2009), Mamoon and Murshed (2009), Sinding (2009), Tiwari (2009), Crush and Ramachandran (2010), Ramessur et al. (2010), Bosworth (2014), Anderson (2011, 2012a, 2012b), Chavula (2013), Jayasuriya and Burke (2013) and Pop et al. (2013).

  6. Although Egypt ranks fourth on the GASI by scoring very high on most sub-components, the country performs very low in the Democracy, Freedom and Governance indicator, ranking 40th. The latter is not necessarily surprising, especially given the political uprisings and violence during August 2013. Egypt’s high ranking on the overall GASI may therefore be somewhat misleading, as the poor performance in the Democracy, Freedom and Governance component could very well offset the high scores in other components.

  7. If data availability permitted inclusion of all African countries, it is most likely that Somalia would have scored lowest on the GASI rather than Chad, as Somalia scored much below other countries in almost all indicators that were available for Somalia.

  8. Similar to the Egypt case noted in footnote 5, due to extreme ethic violence during the first half of 2014 the CAR might very well be the worst ranking country on the GASI, once more recent data become available, as such violence and instability would surely affect the CAR’s Safety and Security score.

  9. Conducted by The Fund for Peace, countries on the Failed States Index (or Fragile States Index) are categorised into four main “pressure assessments”, namely “sustainable”, “stable”, “warning”, and “alert”. Within each of these categories, there are an additional three classifications. For example, within the “alert” category a county can fall under an “alert”, “high alert”, or “very high alert” classification. For more information regarding the FSI and its methodology, see http://ffp.statesindex.org.

  10. These limitations include the fact that all indicators used in construction of the GASI are not available for most other countries, especially the more developed nations such as Australia, Canada, and Denmark. Also, Holmberg (2007) and Holmberg and Rothstein (2014) use life expectancy, infant mortality, and life satisfaction to construct their GSI, whereas this study uses 36 indicators for the GASI. This clearly makes the results not entirely comparable.

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Acknowledgments

Two anonymous referees provided very insightful comments and suggestions. Professor Ron Anderson as well as participants at the Biennial Conference of the Economic Society of South Africa, 25-27 September 2013, in Bloemfontein, also provided valuable suggestions. The financial support of Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) is acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Ferdi Botha.

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Botha, F. The Good African Society Index. Soc Indic Res 126, 57–77 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-015-0891-z

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Keywords

  • Good Society Index
  • Well-being
  • Quality of life
  • Suffering
  • Africa