Civic Culture and Good Government

Massachusetts is a state high in civic participation and government performance, according to a measure devised by two academic researchers. Tom W. Rice of Iowa State University and Alexander F. Sumberg of the University of Vermont have come up with a “civic culture index” that ranks Massachusetts as the second most civic state in the country and a “government performance index” that ranks Massachusetts third. To rate each state’s civic culture, they took statistics such as newspaper circulation per capita, the crime rate, and income inequality (see box for full list), and transformed them into “z-scores” – higher numbers indicating more civic states and low numbers indicating the least civic. They averaged the scores in each of four categories – civic engagement; political equality; solidarity, trust, and tolerance; and social structures of cooperation – to get the index. The government performance index was done in a similar way. The authors found “a clear link” between civicness and government performance. The more civic a state, “the more likely it is to have a liberal, innovative, and effective government,” they said.

Components of Civic Culture

1. Civic engagement
o Newspaper circulation per capita
o Library books per capita in public libraries
o Community improvement and philanthropy/voluntarism groups per capita

2. Political equality
o Percent of public school teachers who are men
o Percent of state legislators who are women
o Civil rights groups per capita of nonwhites
o Income inequality

3. Solidarity, trust, and tolerance
o Crime rate
o Lawyers per capita
o Default rate on Perkins student loans

4. Social structures of cooperation
o Number of nonprofit organizations per capita

 

Components of Government Performance

1. Policy liberalism –
“The extent to which societies have adopted the types of policies generally associated with modern liberalism, such as extensive welfare systems, progressive tax structures, and consumer protection standards.”

2. Policy innovation – “The creative ability of societies to fashion policies to meet pressing needs.”

3. Administrative effectiveness – “The extent to which governments respond to citizen needs.”

Civic Culture
Rank State Score
1. Vermont 1.52
2. Massachusetts 1.05
3. Wyoming 0.79
4. Maine 0.78
5. North Dakota 0.76
6. New Hampshire 0.75
7. Nebraska 0.73
8. Montana 0.73
9. Connecticut 0.64
10. Minnesota 0.64
11. Iowa 0.63
12. New York 0.60
13. Colorado 0.59
14. South Dakota 0.50
15. Washington 0.48
16. Rhode Island 0.44
17. Wisconsin 0.41
18. Oregon 0.40
19. Kansas 0.39
20. Delaware 0.34
21. Illinois 0.31
22. Ohio 0.28
23. Idaho 0.28
24. Alaska 0.26
25. Indiana 0.25
26. Pennsylvania 0.16
27. Missouri 0.10
28. Hawaii -0.12
29. Virginia -0.13
30. California -0.14
31. Oklahoma -0.19
32. New Jersey -0.29
33. Michigan -0.29
34. Maryland -0.35
35. Utah -0.40
36. Nevada -0.47
37. West Virginia -0.50
38. Arizona -0.51
39. Kentucky -0.63
40. Arkansas -0.67
41. North Carolina -0.75
42. Florida -0.78
43. Texas -0.78
44. New Mexico -0.78
45. Tennessee -0.87
46. Georgia -0.93
47. Alabama -1.09
48. South Carolina -1.15
49. Louisiana -1.35
50. Mississippi -1.53
Government Performance
Rank State Score
1. New York 1.59
2. California 1.41
3. Massachusetts 1.13
4. Michigan 0.87
5. Oregon 0.81
6. Ohio 0.80
7. Connecticut 0.79
8. Minnesota 0.76
9. Washington 0.72
10. New Jersey 0.71
11. Pennsylvania 0.67
12. Illinois 0.63
13. Maryland 0.57
14. Vermont 0.44
15. Colorado 0.44
16. Rhode Island 0.41
17. Maine 0.36
18. Utah 0.32
19. Wisconsin 0.31
20. Montana 0.11
21. Idaho 0.04
22. Iowa -0.02
23. New Hampshire -0.04
24. Florida -0.04
25. Nebraska -0.06
26. Delaware -0.14
27. Indiana -0.17
28. Oklahoma -0.21
29. New Mexico -0.22
30. Kansas -0.27
31. Tennessee -0.30
32. Missouri -0.39
33. North Dakota -0.40
34. Kentucky -0.43
35. West Virginia -0.44
36. Wyoming -0.46
37. Texas -0.52
38. Louisiana -0.56
39. Virginia -0.65
40. Arkansas -0.69
41. South Dakota -0.70
42. Nevada -0.76
43. Arizona -0.91
44. North Carolina -0.93
45. Georgia -1.00
46. Alabama -1.20
47. South Carolina -1.45
48. Mississippi -1.45
  Alaska n/a
  Hawaii n/a