The tyranny of international index rankings

Published in Journal of Development Economics, 2012

Recommended citation: Bjørn Høyland, Karl Moene and Fredrik Wilumsen (2012)."Tyranny of international index rankings." Journal of Development Economics 97 (1) 1 - 14.

International index rankings are popular, but perhaps too persuasive. They emphasize country differences where similarity is the dominant feature. Rankings based on Doing Business, the Human Development Index and Freedom House can be misleading, not because of wrong indicators, but because the estimation of the scores ignores inherent uncertainty. Re-estimated with a method that captures this uncertainty, it becomes clear that ranking every adjacent country is a rather courageous activity.

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