Conventional measures of governance indicate that life in contemporary Syria is nasty and brutish, if not particularly short. The World Bank's widely acknowledged indicator for voice and accountability puts Syria in only the 10th percentile of all countries in the years since 1996, and evidences a gradual decline for the years after 2000. Regulatory quality has hovered between the 10th and 20th percentiles, with a similarly pronounced downward trend starting in 2002. Control of corruption peaked at the 50th percentile in 2001, but plunged to the 10th percentile by 2008. Government effectiveness and rule of law exhibit modest improvements over the last decade, but these increases are offset by a steady decline in political stability beginning in 2002. Quantitative measures of governance that have been proposed by regional observers paint an equally dismal portrait. The Arab Reform Initiative ranks Syria eighth out of 10 Arab countries on a comprehensive index of democratic practices.