SINGAPORE - Singapore came in third around the world and first in Asia, in a global ranking that tracks the effectiveness of government.
It is the only Asian country in the Chandler Good Government Index's top 10, which was dominated by European countries such as Finland in first place, and Switzerland in second place.
The index, in its second edition and published by Chandler Institute of Governance, a non-profit organisation based in Singapore, measures government capabilities and outcomes across 104 countries.
It uses 35 indicators, organised into seven pillars: leadership and foresight; robust laws and policies; strong institutions; financial stewardship; attractive marketplace; global influence and reputation; and helping people rise.
It taps more than 50 publicly available global data sources, including the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and World Justice Project.
This year, Singapore took the top spot for helping people rise.
The Chandler Institute releasing the index on Thursday (April 28) said governments are deemed to have helped people rise when they have used their capabilities to create conducive conditions for people from all walks of life to achieve their fullest potential.
Under this pillar, the index measures outcomes in education, healthcare, income inequality, social mobility and personal safety, among other things.
The institute noted that Singapore came in seventh in the social mobility indicator, an improvement from its 21st position last year.
It added that good governance is closely linked to social mobility and social progress.
Countries that ranked highly in its index also did well in these areas.
For instance, there was a strong link between the index and the Social Progress Index, a comprehensive global measure of social progress that looks at 53 indicators to determine how well a society provides its people with the things they care about.
"Our findings suggest that good governance - not ideology, income level, or geography - is what determines the extent to which countries create opportunities for their people to rise on the basis of their creativity, work ethic, and contribution," said the institute.
Singapore also topped the ranking for financial stewardship and attractive marketplace this year, as with last year.
"This demonstrates the Singapore Government's strong capabilities in fiscal policy, public financial management, and budgeting, as well as highlights the conducive business and investment environment in the country," said the institute.
The institute noted that decades of strong financial stewardship had afforded Singapore the means to soften the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and households through a range of assistance schemes.
In fact, countries that had been prudent with public finances were more able to direct government spending towards tackling the pandemic, while keeping up with innovative investment programmes and infrastructural development to boost investor confidence, it said.
This helped to create favourable conditions that encourage talent and investors to remain, despite the tumult of the pandemic, and has helped successful countries enhance their allure as attractive marketplaces, it added.
The institute said that based on its rankings, governance quality was a more important predictor of how well a country responded to the pandemic than wealth.
For instance, there was a strong link when the index was compared with the Prevent Epidemics ReadyScore, an assessment developed by global health organisation Vital Strategies, and the Global Health Security Index, an assessment developed by the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, weapons of mass destruction prevention group Nuclear Threat Initiative, and research and forecast group Economist Intelligence Unit.
In all, about 33 countries, roughly one-third, maintained the same overall ranking this year compared with last year, including Finland, which was the first overall country, and Venezuela, which came in last.
Other countries in the top 10 include Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Japan was ranked 15th, Australia 17th, and South Korea 19th, and were the other Asia-Pacific countries in the top 20.
The institute said that the stability of the index can be partly attributed to its focus on capabilities, such as systems, institutions, processes and skills, rather than outcomes.
It added that capabilities take years to build and develop, and are "more likely to gradually erode than abruptly collapse", which is why country rankings are not expected to soar and dip each year.
The institute also said that its methodology was developed in consultation with public servants, government leaders, index experts, and researchers in governance.
"The process was conducted independently, without any discussions with, or financial support from, the Singapore Government," it added.
Chandler Institute of Governance executive director Wu Wei Neng said: "Government capabilities are an enduring source of competitive advantage for nations. These capabilities include systems, institutions, processes, and skills - elements that take time to improve and build up.
"Once developed and strengthened, government capabilities are not easily eroded in the short-term, and can support governments through brief periods of instability or crisis."
Top 10 in government effectiveness
9. New Zealand
10. United Kingdom
Source: Chandler Good Government Index