Where the rule of law is strong, there’s not much room for corruption. In law abiding societies, those who either pay bribes or demand them usually get caught and are punished. That deters the idea of bribery, and the actual practice of it.
But where the rule of law is weak, graft usually flourishes. That’s because corruption replaces the rules that govern how people interact with government — they have to pay bribes to get what they’re already entitled to.
While generally accepted, there’s not much evidence supporting those principles, and what evidence there is is usually anecdotal.
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The CPI ranks most countries — 182, and assigns an overall score to each country. The Rule of Law index doesn’t work that way. It ranks just 66 countries, with representatives from each region, and uses ten separate grading categories. It omits an overall country score and rank. From the Rule of Law Index, we chose the category most meaningful for our comparison — ‘order and security’, which measures the application of ‘laws protecting human security and assuring the security of persons and property.’
The correlation between the rule of law and corruption is there but isn’t perfect. Of the top 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index, nine are in the top fifteen on the CPI. And four of the bottom 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index rank in the top half of the CPI.
But overall, the numbers support a strong correlation between the Rule of Law Index and the CPI.
The top 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index have an average CPI rank of 15.8.
And the bottom 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index have an average CPI rank of 112.6.
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Here are the results.
First, the top 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index, with their CPI rank in parentheses, in descending order:
Hong Kong (12)
United Arab Emirates (28)
New Zealand (1)
United States (24)
United Kingdom (16)
And the bottom 15 countries on the Rule of Law Index, with their CPI rank in parentheses, in descending order:
Dominican Republic (129)
South Africa (64)