I suspect some readers will take issue with the US being ranked as high as it is, 22 out of 178 nations, in an annual survey of public sector corruption by Transparency International. However, it fell from 19 the year prior, so the trajectory at least is correct.
The New York Times provided a brief description of methodology which may shed some light on these results:
The index, which seeks to gauge domestic public sector corruption, is figured with data compiled from surveys of country experts and business leaders, and relies on perceptions rather than legal findings, which can differ sharply across borders depending on enforcement. The index reflects two years of data to iron out one-time spikes.
Yves here. So let’s consider:
1. The results are subjective, and people tend to adhere to established perceptions and prejudices. So that approach assures changes will take place slowly
2. The two year measurement period is designed to delay changes being registered quickly (the creators would argue to prevent overreaction to a short term crisis or scandal)
3. Business leaders are one of the major groups surveyed. If the results of corruption were favorable to business, would business leaders necessarily rank a country badly? Probably not. And some academics have taken to defending corruption, at least in its milder forms.
A more immediate issue is that the banking industry succeeded in conducting a very successful looting operation across pretty much all advanced economies. So the fact that corruption has arguably risen across the board means the relatively country ranking will not reflect the actual rise in abuses.
Here’s the visual (click to enlarge):
And here are the top 20 (I recall some readers objecting a few days ago to my commenting on clean government in Singapore….)