Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 2, 2011

How much does corruption affect a nation's economic performance?

We stumbled across the following interactive data visualization at IBM's ManyEyes site, which seems to answer the question (click the link to play with the interactive version!):

GDP per Capita vs Corruption Perception Index, 2008

In the chart, a high Corruption Perception Index score is good, indicating a country is relatively clean of corruption. Meanwhile, a high GDP per Capita figure would also be considered to be good.

What we see is that countries with a high perception of corruption are correlated with poor economic performance, while countries with high "clean" scores are correlated with high levels of economic performance!

The data in the chart applies for 2008. Transparency International provides the following map (which also has an interactive version) showing their corruption perception index for 2010:

2010 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index

What will be interesting to see is how GDP per Capita and corruption track each other with time for the world's nations. For example, the U.S. CPI score has fallen from 7.3 to 7.1 from 2008 to 2010, while GDP per capita has fallen from $48,300 to $47,400 over that same time.

A good question to ask then, is how much is the U.S. economic recovery being held back because corruption is becoming a bigger problem? And whose fault is that?


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