Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Zealand is still least corrupt

According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, New Zealand is the least corrupt nation on earth—well, it’s actually tied with Denmark and Singapore, all three with a score of 9.3 (on a scale in which 10 is very clean and 0 is very corrupt). Finland and Sweden are next at 9.2.

According to its report, “Transparency International advocates stricter implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption, the only global initiative that provides a framework for putting an end to corruption.” A laudable enough goal. Their Index:

“…defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries according to perception of corruption in the public sector. The CPI is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it possible to compare countries.”

The Index is also mostly about business:

“The 2010 CPI draws on different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. It captures information about the administrative and political aspects of corruption. Broadly speaking, the surveys and assessments used to compile the index include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.”
“Perceptions are used because corruption—whether frequency or amount—is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure. Over time, perceptions have proved to be a reliable estimate of corruption. Measuring scandals, investigations or prosecutions, while offering ‘non-perception’ data, reflect less on the prevalence of corruption in a country and more on other factors, such as freedom of the press or the efficiency of the judicial system. TI considers it of critical importance to measure both corruption and integrity, and to do so in the public and private sectors at global, national and local levels.”

Well, I suppose I “perceive” the same way their respondents do, too, because I just haven’t seen evidence of real corruption. But here’s the thing: New Zealand’s score is 9.3; as I so often say when looking at an index like this, we should celebrate how well-ranked we are in the world, but we should work to stamp out corruption.

I believe that a score—any score, good or bad—on an index like this is a snapshot of a moment in time. There’s always room to improve, and countries, like people, should always strive to do so. We may not be able to make things perfect, but at least on this index we might become a 10.

Among other countries I write about: Canada was at sixth place (8.9), Australia was eighth equal with Switzerland (8.7), the United Kingdom was twentieth (7.6). The United States was twenty-second (7.1) because, apparently, financial scandals and "the influence of money in politics" forced it out of the top 20.


liminalD said...

Thanks for the link to the corruption index, I had wanted to find out where the Philippines ranked for a while, given their recent history of dictatorship/financial scandals etc (the Philippines just interest me, is all).

I'm not super surprised we're still up at the top here in NZ, we're a pretty secular nation and I'm inclined to the think corruption (in the Western world at least) is correlated with religiosity - it certainly seems that way from what we read about the States sometimes (Note that I said correlated, not that one causes the other). But then I guess the UK is pretty secular these days too, and they're hardly better than the States on this index... so maybe I'm just talking out me a*se.

Roger Owen Green said...

"The influence of money in politics" - why, I'm shocked, you hear me? SHOCKED! I need the vapors.

bettyl said...

Since moving here, I have held the opinion that crime of any sort is low because there are no places to hide and everybody knows everybody.