An effective governance structure is central to growth, sustainable development and equal income distribution (economic welfare) (Glass & Newig, 2020). Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) countries differ in governance structure with varying outcomes on economic welfare. This article explores the extent to which governance impacts economic welfare in BRICS countries viewed as an emerging powerhouse, with significant growth prospects — yet distinct in their governance systems, and income variability amongst its population. The article utilised panel static models (pooled ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed effects (FEs) estimator) from 1996 to 2019 to investigate the effects of governance proxied by the World Bank World Governance Indicators (WGI) on economic welfare (proxied from two channels): quantitative (output stock/economic growth) and qualitative (reduced income inequality). The two channels combine the ordinary measure of welfare: gross domestic product (GDP), a proxy for economic growth, household and income distribution, and a proxy for income inequality drawing (Heys, 2019). The findings revealed that governance produced varying results on the economic welfare in BRICS. Democratic countries which practise good governance principles (South Africa and Brazil) had a negative economic welfare effect from both channels compared to one-party states, such as China and Russia. Therefore, the findings invalidate the null hypothesis that good governance is a catalyst for economic welfare. Sound policies, especially on structural change and equitable income distribution are necessary to enhance economic welfare in BRICS countries. The article is relevant and discloses iterations of the distinction between good governance and sound policy implications on developing nations’ economic welfare.