A worldwide ranking of corruptionIn 1995, German professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff developed the "Corruption Perceptions Index" at the University of Passau. Corruption can be measured only in a few cases. If something is measured, then it is known. This would contradict the principle that corruption per se is illegal, or at least unethical, and therefore under a certain level of secrecy.
For this reason the corruption index is based on investigations and surveys of nine independent institutions. Both businesspeople and analysts were asked about 118 countries worldwide for their assessment of corruption in the public sector. The index is published annually by Transparency International.
The evaluation shown here is based on the data for 2022 and lists 118 countries. It is striking that corruption in northern Europe, North America and Australia is very limited. The United States are ranked 23rd at the better end of the scale. At the bottom of the table is Somalia.
International ranking of corruptionThe top places on the list are obviously occupied by wealthy countries. In particular, European countries, New Zealand, Australia and Canada are mentioned here. At the bottom of the ranking are mostly emerging and developing countries. To clarify this connection, an additional column provides information about the average annual income of the respective country.
|Rank||Country||Ø Annual income||Corruption index|
|2||New Zealand||45,230 $||13|
|12||Hong Kong *||54,460 $||24|
|18||United Kingdom||44,480 $||27|
|23||United States||70,930 $||31|
|24||United Arab Emirates||41,770 $||33|
|25||South Korea||35,110 $||37|
|32||Costa Rica||12,310 $||46|
|34||Saudi Arabia||21,540 $||49|
|38||South Africa||6,530 $||57|
|44||Sri Lanka||4,030 $||64|
|48||Bosnia and Herzegovina||6,810 $||66|
|48||Sierra Leone||500 $||66|
|54||El Salvador||4,260 $||67|
|61||Dominican Republic||8,100 $||68|
|68||Papua New Guinea||2,460 $||70|
|88||Central Africa||480 $||76|
|102||Cape Verde||3,190 $||79|
|104||Congo (Dem. Republic)||550 $||80|
|109||Equatorial Guinea||5,150 $||83|
|116||South Sudan||460 $||87|
Good and bad countriesAn interpretation of the ranking should not lead to dividing individual countries into benign and malignant. Instead, it rather represents the acceptance of a rule of law and the fear of punishment within the respective country. Transparency International also complains that while many "clean countries" exhibit exemplary behavior in their own countries, they are often associated with corruption in other countries. For example, some countries are in the top ranks, but even partly state-owned companies are involved in bribery scandals abroad. Half of all OECD countries are also accused of similar behavior. Incidentally, with the exception of a few countries in southeastern Europe, the members of the OECD surprisingly coincide with the top quarter of the corruption rankings.
Consequences of corruption in the public sectorCorruption is not only evil because it unfairly discriminates against individual groups of the population. The main problem is in the economic context: If money for personal relationships or favors changes hands, then it is no longer available for necessary expenditures. The example of schools, kindergartens or hospitals becomes particularly clear. Suppliers are usually public institutions such as state or city governments. If the money flows uncontrolled into other channels, the public sector has to suffer. Closely considered, bribe money also remains in the economic cycle, but necessary expenditures can no longer be made with it. As an indirect consequence, economic output falls and inflation rises.
Note on the data basisThe scale used by Transparency International ranges from 0 (high corruption) to 100 (low corruption). Since there is always confusion with this interpretation, we have inverted the scale. Low values here therefore stand for a low perception and high numbers for a high one.
* Hong Kong is not an independent and sovereign country, but special administrative region of China. Further information on the definition of a country can be found in our article What is a country?