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Harry Cassin
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Richard L. Cassin
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Another reason why calling graft a victimless crime is dumb

The Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries in terms of wealth and wellbeing.

The London-based Legatum Institute produces the Prosperity Index by ranking countries using eight sub-indexes: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.

Public and private corruption are included under the governance sub-index. Because of that, you’d expect to see a correlation between the Prosperity Index and TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and there is one.

The top twenty countries on the Prosperity Index have an average CPI ranking of 10.3 The bottom twenty countries have an average CPI ranking of 146.9. So yes, countries high on the Prosperity Index have low rates of perceived corruption, and countries low on the Prosperity Index have high rates of perceived corruption.

But corruption, as we’ve reported, is more than an isolated cause or effect. It’s a gateway to more crime, and to poverty, public health issues, personal security problems, environmental degradation, political oppression and instability, and so on.

Corrupt regimes usually don’t get much right. That’s why a lot of people now think freedom from corruption is a basic human right, and that grand corruption should be deemed a crime against humanity.

Treating corruption as just one factor among many when calculating a Prosperity Index score is a view of corruption that’s too narrow. But the Prosperity Index is still valuable. It’s another way to show that clean governments generally serve their citizens well in all areas of their lives, while corrupt regimes fail at nearly everything, and produce misery and fear.

Here are the top twenty countries on the Prosperity Index, with their Corruption Perceptions Index rank in parentheses:

1  Norway (5)

2  Switzerland (5)

3  Denmark (1)

4  New Zealand (2)

5  Sweden (4)

6  Canada (10)

7  Australia (11)

8  Netherlands (8)

9  Finland (3)

10 Ireland (17)

11 United States (17)

12 Iceland (12)

13 Luxembourg (9)

14 Germany (12)

15 United Kingdom (14)

16 Austria (23)

17 Singapore (7)

18 Belgium (15)

19 Japan (15)

20 Hong Kong (17)

Here are the twenty worst countries on the Prosperity Index, followed by their CPI rank:

123 Iraq (170)

124 Sierra Leone (119)

125 Nigeria (136)

126 Ethiopia (110)

127 Congo, Rep. (152)

128 Zimbabwe (156)

129 Togo (126)

130 Pakistan (126)

131 Guinea (145)

132 Liberia (94)

133 Angola (161)

134 Sudan (173)

135 Yemen (161)

136 Syria (159)

137 Congo (DR) (154)

138 Burundi (159)

139 Chad (154)

140 Haiti (161)

141 Afghanistan (172)

142 Central African Republic (150)


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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