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Bill Steinman
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At the intersection of graft and pollution

Image courtesy of china.org.cnNews of nearly 3,000 dead pigs floating in Shanghai’s source for drinking water made us queasy. And it got us thinking. Are corrupt countries more polluted than compliant ones?

The most authoritative scale for measuring how effective countries are at keeping their environment clean is Yale’s Environment Performance Index, or EPI. It doesn’t measure how clean a country’s air and water are, but how good the country is at coming up with effective policies to keep the air and water clean.

We compared the top and bottom countries on the EPI with their rank on the Corruption Perceptions Index. The CPI doesn’t measure actual corruption but the perception of it by people inside and outside the country.

Despite the methodology, the correlation between the cleanliness of a regime and the environment appears striking.

The top ten countries on the EPI have an average CPI rank of 24.

The bottom ten countries on the EPI have an average CPI rank of 114.

China ranks 116 on the EPI and 80 on the CPI.

For comparison, the United States is 49 on the EPI and 19 on the CPI, and Canada is 37 on the EPI and 9 on the CPI. Singapore ranks 52 on the EPI and 5 on the CPI.

The correlation is far from perfect. Italy, for example, ranks in the top ten on the EPI but 72 on the CPI, while Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks near the bottom of the EPI but shares 72nd place on the CPI with Italy.

Here are the top ten countries on the Environmental Performance Index with their Corruption Perception Index rank in parentheses:

1    Switzerland (6)

2    Latvia (54)

3    Norway (7)

4    Luxembourg (12)

5    Costa Rica (48)

6    France (22)

7    Austria (25)

8    Italy (72)

9    United Kingdom (17)

10    Sweden  (4)

Here are the bottom ten countries on the EPI:

123    Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (160)

124    Bosnia and Herzegovina (72)

125    India (94)

126    Kuwait (66)

127    Yemen (156)

128    South Africa (66)

129    Kazakhstan (133)

130    Uzbekistan (170)

131    Turkmenistan (170)

132    Iraq (169)

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