Are rich countries the least corrupt?
Looking at Transparency International’s list of corrupt countries 2006, the most obvious thing that struck me was that the money you had mattered a lot when it came to the temptation to steal. I wondered about the exact relationship between income and corruption and decided I would try and find out. The attempts to co-relate the two factors are entirely my own, and done out of sheer curiosity. I am certainly not drawing any hard and fast conclusions on the basis of the relationship between the two.
From nationmaster.com I got the per capita income of the ten least corrupt countries and tried to see how their ranking on this list matched their ranking in the other. The scores given by Transparency International for corruption are out 10 (a higher score means less corruption) and Nationmaster has provided the per capita income in dollars. (TI’s methods at arriving at the corruption rankings is given at the bottom of the post):
1. Finland is the least corrupt with a corruption index of 9.6. It has a per capita income of $23,480 and its income ranking is 14.
2. Iceland, the second least corrupt country has a corruption index of 9.6. Its per capita income is $27,001 and that makes its income ranking 7.
3. New Zealand, the third least corrupt country has a corruption index of 9.3. Its per capita income $12,391. and this makes it number 27 on the income ranking.
4. Denmark, the fourth least corrupt country has a corruption index of 9.5, and its per capita income is $29,992. This makes it 6th in the income ranking.
5. Singapore, the fifth least corrupt country, has a corruption index of 9.4 and its per capita income is $19,506. In the income list it stands at number 18.
6. Sweden, the sixth least corrupt country, has a corruption index of 9.2. Its per capita income is $25,024 and in this list it stands in the 8th position.
7. Switzerland, the seventh least corrupt country has a corruption index of 9.1. Its per capita income is $36,666 and well, its citizens are the richest in the world as its first on the income list.
8. Norway, the eight least corrupt country, has a corruption index of 8.8. Its per capita income is $34,788 and here it ranks 4th.
9. Australia, the ninth least corrupt country has a corruption index of 8.7. Its per capita income is $18,889 and it comes in at number 20 in the income list.
10. Netherlands, the tenth least corrupt country has a corruption index of 8.7 and its income per capita is $23,535. Its rank in the income list is 13.
India’s corruption index is 3.3 (its rank is 70 out of 163 countries listed in the corruption index) and its per capita income is $422. Its income rank is 127 (out of 171 countries) in this list.
The ten richest countries (highest per capita income) which are not the top ten least corrupt nations
Luxembourg’s citizens are the second richest in the world with a per capita income of $36,589. In the corruption index this small country has a score of 8.6 and comes in 11th in the list.
Japan is another rich country, its citizens the third richest in the world, with a per capita income of $35,469, but its corruption index is merely 7.7. It ranks 17th.
United States’ citizens are the fifth richest in the world with an income of $32,476 per capita, but the country comes in 20th on the corruption index with a score of 7.3
United Kingdom‘s per capita income is $24,351 and its citizens are the 9th richest in the world. Its rank in the corruption index is 11, with a score of 8.6.
Austria has a per capita income of $23,781, making its citizens the tenth richest in the world. It is at number 11 in the corruption index, with a score of 8.6, equal to the UK and Luxembourg.
Interestingly, India has improved its corruption ranking as compared to last year. Well, one factor could be rising incomes…we know that better law enforcement could not have played a part. I feel that if Singapore has so little corruption, their strict law enforcement is a big factor.
Also, the fact that the USA and Japan do not score very well in the corruption index, inspite of being rich nations, means that a lot of complex factors are at work. I am not sure I understand what.
Coming to the countries which score very badly, Transparency International officials have said that the most corrupt nations are those with “an extremely weak institutional setting”. So this means there is hope for India. As it says here:
But in a situation where institutions are well-founded and have been established for decades (as in India), the tackling of corruption cannot be kept confined to merely getting new people in top positions but will also have to include the functioning of the institutions as a whole. Clearly, this is a gigantic task which will need a lot of time (particularly in a democracy), not to speak of the fact that, in the first place, it may not be possible to find eligible “non-corrupt” people to do the cleansing.
Due to its institutions India has an advantage over countries like Haiti (corruption index 1.8), Sudan or Bangladesh (both with a corruption index of 2). Therefore while there is hope for the future, how we make these institutions work is up to us.
Note: (From the Transparency International site)
(The Corruption perceptions index (CPI) rates a country’s propensity to accept bribes according to the perceptions of business people, risk analysts, and the general public. The scores range from 10 (squeaky clean) to zero (highly corrupt). 5.5 is the number Transparency International considers the borderline figure distinguishing countries that do and do not have a serious corruption problem.