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Harry Cassin
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Andy Spalding
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Jessica Tillipman
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Richard L. Cassin
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Marc Alain Bohn
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Measuring Misery

Which comes first: chaos or corruption?

Like the chicken and egg, the question can be debated but not answered. Corruption is both a symptom of disorder and a cause of it.

One thing’s certain: the world’s most chaotic countries — those closest to collapse — are also among the most corrupt.

The 2010 Failed States Index used 90,000 publicly available sources to determine how stable or unstable the world’s countries are. Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace measured 177 nations, and the 60 most troubled made the list.

Here are the critical 20. In parentheses is their rank on the 2010 corruption perception index. The unhappiest place is Somalia, ranked worst for both instability and corruption. 

Somalia (178)
Zimbabwe (134)
Sudan (172)
Chad (171)
Dem. Rep. of the Congo (164)
Iraq (175)
Afghanistan (176)
Central African Republic (154)
Guinea (164)
Pakistan (143)
Ivory Coast (146)
Haiti (146)
Burma (176)
Kenya (154)
Nigeria (134)
Ethiopia (116)
North Korea (not ranked)
Yemen (146)
Bangladesh (134)
East Timor (127)

Chaos is chronic, Foreign Policy says. The top ten slots on the list for the six years it’s been published have been filled by just 15 countries.

On the other hand, troubled states can fight their way back to normalcy. Examples of success, according to Foreign Policy, are Sierra Leone (134 on the cpi), Liberia (87), and Colombia (78 on the cpi).

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