A statistical look at state corruption in countries around the world

corrupt politicianThey say absolute power corrupts absolutely, but one doesn’t have to look too far to find government corruption in our democracies.

Corruption has come into the political spotlight in recent months both in Canada and the United States. In Canada we have the senate expense scandal where Canadian Senators were using the public purse to pay for personal expenses. The province of Quebec is also rife with corruption and has resulted in the arrest or resignation of several high profile mayors.

In the United States we’ve seen cases of fraud stemming from last year’s election and politicians being fined for tax evasion. Corruption in the US is sometimes right out in the forefront; it’s not unheard of for a politician to satisfy industry lobbyists only to find employment within the industry when their term is over. I suppose we call that legal corruption.

Fraud, bribery and racketeering are fairly bi-partisan in nature and aren’t beholden to one party. It also occurs at every level of government as well. If there’s money to be made in some shape or form, you can be sure some government officials will risk it all to quickly enrich themselves.

Government corruption is most rampant among the world’s poorest countries such as Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan. However, it can also deeply penetrate the wealthier nations among us such as Russia.

With little government infrastructure and fewer checks and balances, corruption has been known to be at the heart of poverty, particularly among totalitarian regimes. Africa is good example of how continued state corruption can keep nations poor for centuries.

With all the corruption in the world I thought it might be easier to show everyone where the least corruptible countries are. Three of the top four countries perceived to have the least amount of government corruption are Scandinavian.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say the stronger the social fabric of a democratic country the less corruption you’ll find. It might explain why Denmark, Finland and New Zealand are #1 and the United States is at #19.

The index below defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among a country’s public officials and politicians. It is a composite index, drawing on 13 different expert and business surveys.

For more information visit www.infoplease.com

Rank

Country

2012 CPI Score

1

Denmark

90

Finland

90

New Zealand

90

4

Sweden

88

5

Singapore

87

6

Switzerland

86

7

Australia

85

Norway

85

9

Netherlands

84

Canada

84

11

Iceland

82

12

Luxembourg

80

13

Germany

79

14

Hong Kong

77

Barbados

76

16

Belgium

75

17

Japan

74

United Kingdom

74

19

United States

73

20

Chile

72

government corruption map 2012

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