The objective of this study is to confirm Alexis de Tocqueville's assertion that “Even the most favorable geographic locations and the best laws cannot maintain a constitution in despite of mores.” An aggregate indicator of progressive social values taken from the World Values Survey turns out to be a strong predictor of GDP per capita levels and of governance performance, as compared to resource endowment and political institutions. The concluding remarks recommend ways that these findings may be used as guidelines to promote economic and social development.
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