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These observations are useful. It's the kind of insight that begs that we peel the onion more.

The problem with the WGIs is that many of the sources are perception-based, overlap of 3rd party indicators across the WGI roll-ups, range of the number of indicators per WGI roll-up, and lack of weighting on what is important. A good anchor none the less.

The next step could be to drill into those countries where the investment was significantly correlated with success and those where is was significantly correlated with reduction of economic development.

There is also the question of the type of investment made. That might provide additional insight.

Governance has many moving parts. The evidence might show that there is a difference between reform as ceremony and government owned reform. For example, PEFA assessment results seem to show that many operational reforms do not take hold. On the other hand, certain types of public financial management automation tends to improve some aspects of governance. Government-led reforms tend to work better than donor-led, from anecdotal evidence - but that gets into a chicken-and-egg discussion. (i.e. if government led the reform, there may have been formal or informal governance mechanisms.)

There's also " modalities " of reform. As much as I dislike the jargon, this seems to be another avenue to consider.

Another problem in analysis: lack of transparency on information (hence #makeaidtransparent - we need to all sign up on this petition. Result? - getting the information to answer the questions that you've raised and make aid effectiveness.)

Not to mention asymmetrical improvements in governance that could be lost in the numbers. Some of the countries that you have mentioned have had excellent results in some aspects of governance but poor in others. The aggregate result hides these successes.

The coin toss might depend on the context.

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