Corruption versus human development

Transparency International released annual data for the Corruption Perceptions Index. The Economist plotted it against the UN’s Human Development Index:

Comparing the corruption index with the UN’s Human Development Index (a measure combining health, wealth and education), demonstrates an interesting connection. When the corruption index is between approximately 2.0 and 4.0 there appears to be little relationship with the human development index, but as it rises beyond 4.0 a stronger connection can be seen. Outliers include small but well-run poorer countries such as Bhutan and Cape Verde, while Greece and Italy stand out among the richer countries.

Interesting, although I suspect that the indices have some factors in common.

[The Economist via @mikeloukides]


  • I think the more interesting question is what constitutes corruption in their perceptions index?
    For instance in many developing countries corruption is bribery at a local level- police, officials, bureaucrats e.t.c. and it is illegal.
    However right now many people in the developed world look at the perfectly legal capture of the political system by corporations, finance, lobbyists and feel disenfranchised. This is not illegality and may not perhaps be captured by the specific question on corruption- but I think it is a kind of corruption when Wall Street dominates contribution to both political parties.

  • It would also be interesting to see if there has been a relationship between corruption and human development over time. Sort of like the fertility vs life expectancy rate(

  • Stephen makes an interesting point, and you have to wonder whether that might not be what the graph depicts–does corruption diminish as countries become more develop, or does it simply become cleaned up & systematized, so that it slips out of the boundaries used by this index? When I’m feeling cynical, it’s not hard to see the world that way.

    • Good Point. So you’re saying that there should be a “Money spent on Lobbing elected officials” index and we would expect that this index would increase as the Corruptions Perceptions index goes to 10?

  • It would appear that if you exclude sub Saharan Africa, you get a pretty linear relationship (perhaps higher R^2?). Here it looks like there are exogenous factors dragging down the region’s HDI score.

  • South Korea is an outlier on the top-left side of the graph.

  • Meic Goodyear December 12, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Those interested in this topic, especially the conflicting international views between what looks like corruption from one angle but may be seen more as a simple fee-for-service elsewhere, and the implications of recent anti-corrution legislation in major Western nations, may find the newly published book Corruption by Nick Kochan and Robin Goodyear of interest. (declaration of interest: the second author is my son).