Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Benefits of Living under a Constitutional Monarchy?

A royalist aquaintance of mine, George Bougias, draws some interesting conclusions from the recent publication of the United Nations Human Development Index. He writes:
Six of the top ten nations are Constitutional Monarchies. I am happy to live in Australia - number 3 on the list and a Constitutional Monarchy!

1. Iceland R
2. Norway CM
3. Australia CM
4. Canada CM

5. Ireland R
6. Sweden CM
7. Switzerland R
8. Japan CM
9. Netherlands CM

10. France R
All very interesting. Probably proves nothing in particulur, but I like to think he has a point. Actually, there is no reason why he could not have continued the list to the top twenty, as that would have made it 12 out of 20:
11. Finland R
12. United States R
13. Spain CM
14. Denmark CM

15. Austria R
16. United Kingdom CM
17. Belgium CM
18. Luxembourg CM (or CGD strictly speaking)
19. New Zealand CM

20. Italy R
While none of this proves that, as a political system, Constitution Monarchy is necessarily any better than Republicanism (since the real common denominator among all these nations is European-style democracy), at least, I think, it does prove that Constitutional Monarchy as a political system does not have a negative impact upon the well-being of a nation. One would not be able to argue on the basis of these figures that we in Australia would be better off if only we ditched our constitutional monarchy for some kind of republic.

3 Comments:

At Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:33:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I suspect the correlation may work the other way. Most of the nations at the top of the list have enjoyed long periods of political and social stability. These are conditions which favour the kind of things that the Human Development Index measures (healthcare, education, prosperity) and they also favour the retention or gradual development (as opposed to revolutionary change) of political institutions.

It occurs to me that the HDI represents the accumulated benefit of long years of good government, meaning that in the long term the top countries have been well served by their political institutions. It doesn’t follow that they are [i]currently[/i] being well-served by their political institutions. An interesting comparison might be a table showing which countries are making the fastest progress up (or down) the Index over, say, the past ten years. That might give us a better handle on which political structures are currently performing well.

 
At Friday, February 01, 2008 8:46:00 am , Blogger Rob said...

-and they also favour the retention or gradual development (as opposed to revolutionary change) of political institutions.-

Good point.

I liked to see that the US was No. 12. Look out Finland, we're going for the top ten!

 
At Friday, February 01, 2008 4:28:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

[i]“I liked to see that the US was No. 12. Look out Finland, we're going for the top ten!”[/i]

Sadly, the prospects for this are not promising.

Burrowing into the site to which David links, we can see that while the US has been improving its HDI figures, it has not been improving them as fast as others. East Asia and South Asia have moved up the index much faster; even Sub-Saharan Africa has improved its figures faster than the US (starting, of course, from a much lower base). Unless this trend can be reversed, in the long-term the ranking of the US is more likely to slip than to improve.

The US scores very well on the GDP per capita component of the index (second in the world, behind Luxembourg) but is let down a bit by its educational enrolment – nineteenth in the world (just behind Kazakhstan!). The really poor performance, though, is on life expectancy – 31st in the world. Guys, you need to improve your diet, take more exercise and embrace socialized medicine. But you probably knew that already.

Lest I be accused of smugness, Australia has its weak points too. We’re pretty good on educational enrolment and life expectancy, but let down by our GDP per capita figures. We need to pay ourselves more. I am willing to do my bit for the country by accepting a large pay rise.

 

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