Political performace measures

Relative Political Capacity

Relative Political Capacity (RPC) represents a sign along the road to developing a social science indicator similar to the ubiquitous applications of GDP and GDP per capita in economics. Political science has long valued the universality of these concepts and the powerful applications they allow for measuring and comparative purposes. It was the chase after the elixir of a political science counterpart that led to this volume. Despite its universal appeal, as a concept GDP remains limited in some ways. It does not include the non-monetized economy, the black market, the subsistence economy, or volunteer work, and it fails to address why the public sector is approximated by inputs not outputs. Yet, GDP remains the gold standard for cross national economic comparisons. And GDP per capita is the measure of choice for assessing the average productivity of individuals across and within nations.

RPC takes up the challenge for presenting a GDP-like indicator that would allow scholars and policy makers to compare governmental functions across time, space and across types of governments. Various attempts have been made to develop proxies for government performance but none of them have allowed scholars to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of governments, the performance of governments, vertically and horizontally – from the international to local levels. In order to find our GDP-like political indicator, members of the TRC developed, tested and integrated three distinct measures of political performance. They are Extraction, Reach, and Allocation. Extraction approximates the ability of governments to appropriate portions of the national output to advance public goals. Reach gauges the capacity of governments to mobilize populations under their control. Allocation evaluates the share of public revenues provided to competing national priorities contrasted to the optimal allocation based on maximizing economic growth. Each of these measures is tested empirically to determine if significant and substantive results followed from their applications. These tests establish the universality of the political performance concept.

In the attached files, you can find the aforementioned measures of political performance as well as the components used to calculate them. The codebook, which includes detailed information on calculation procedures and data sources, is also provided. For any questions or concerns about the dataset, please contact Ali Fisunoglu (afisun@gmail.com).