Global Corruption And Democracy

January 12, 2009

[First published February, 2006] Kenneth Sikorski has tested whether democracies are the least corrupt compared to other forms of government. He showed they are, using Transparency International’s 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Transparency International has just released its Global Corruption Report 2006, which includes Chapter 10 on “Ten years of the CPI: determining trends,” by Johann Graf Lambsdorff. Their global index for previous years is here.

Lambsdorff found that:

Overall, our findings indicate that significant improvements between 1995 and 2004 occurred (in descending order of significance) in Estonia, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Mexico, Hong Kong, Colombia, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Australia, Iceland and Russia. Deterioration, on the other hand, was significant in Argentina, Ireland, Poland, Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Ecuador, Indonesia, Turkey, Canada, and the Philippines.

In a following chapter, “Governance matters IV: new data, new challenges,” Lambsdorff discusses governance indicators covering 209 countries for 2004. These indicators are based on 352 different underlying variables measuring perceptions of a wide range of governance issues. The variables are drawn from 32 separate data sources constructed by 30 different organizations worldwide. For those of you interested in global performance and the effect of freedom, this report and those discussed and linked below are a bonanza.

One of the findings is:

that there is a strong causal impact of institutional quality on per capita incomes worldwide. Figure 12.1 [shown below]shows a representative set of estimates of this “development dividend” of good governance. These estimates suggest that a realistic one-standard deviation improvement in governance would raise incomes in the long run by about two- to-threefold. Of course, there is variation around these relationships, since governance is not the only thing that matters for development – but it certainly is a very important factor deserving policy-makers’ attention.

The rule of law, as measured on the X axis, is a major indicator of democracy, and as shown is closely related to a countrie’s wealth — its GDP per capita. Note that this is logged, which means that the wealth of countries curves sharply upward with the presence of the rule of law.

Then, there is chapter 13 on “Corruption in the United States of America” by Edward Glaeser and Raven Saks. This is measured by the number of public officials convicted for corruption in each of the 50 US states. They find that “states with higher incomes and a larger share of college-educated population are less corrupt.” States that are most corrupt during 1976-2002 are Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Montana, and North Dakota. States least corrupt are Colorado, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Utah, Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, and Oregon. The authors conclude:

In general, the patterns documented in the data for US states reveal the same basic relationships that have been found using international evidence. This similarity is particularly interesting given that, here, corruption is measured using federal conviction data rather than the type of opinion survey that is the norm in the cross-country literature.


“Wolfowitz’s Corruption Agenda”:

In sum, Wolfowitz’s World Bank presidency, which had seemed to lack an organizing theme, has acquired one. The new boss is going to be tough on corruption, and he’s going to push this campaign beyond the confines of the World Bank; [and he has] persuaded the heads of several regional development banks to join his anti-corruption effort.

RJR: The empirical results mentioned above and in the links below provide strong support for Wolfowitz’s campaign.

“Legal Corruption”:

We undertake to identify general determinants of the pattern of legal and illegal corruption worldwide . . .

RJR: One of the things that the study found is “that fundamental accountability may [play] a clear role in development. This may be a key variable in the determination of corruption in richer societies — policies oriented to its reinforcement may be very fruitful.” What is most important about this is the way accountability was measured — the freedom of the press. This is also a cental indicator of democratic freedom.

“Myths and Realities of Governance and Corruption”

A number of popular notions and outright myths on governance and corruption are addressed in this chapter. We distinguish clearly between governance and anti-corruption, while probing the links between both notions. In so doing we challenge the conventional definition of corruption as being too narrow, legalistic and unduly focused on the public sector, while underplaying the role of the private sector.

“Corruption, Governance and Security: Challenges for the Rich Countries and the World”:

We suggest that the undue emphasis on narrow legalism has obscured more subtle yet costly manifestations of misgovernance, which afflict rich countries as well….Further, we find that governance constraints, and corruption in particular, is a key determinant of a country’s global competitiveness. These findings challenge traditional notions of what constitutes the country’s ‘investment climate’, and who shapes it. It is also found that illegal forms of corruption continue to be prevalent in the interaction between transnationals of the rich world and the public sectors in many emerging countries. Finally, we suggest an empirical link between governance and security issues.

My latest democide painting

World Public Opinion About Democracy

January 12, 2009

[First published February 21, 2006] In September of last year Gallup International released its <A HREF=”; This was a survey of more than 50,000 people conducted in 65 countries, and representing the opinions of 1.3 million people.

It found that:

Among respondents, 79% believe that democracy is the best system of government —almost 10% more than in 2004. See the chart below for responses by region.

As to the United States, “. . . the level of agreement is high (87%) and has increased in comparison with the 2004 figure (81%). The UK (81%) shows figures in line with Western Europe’s average (82%), above the percentage for the world (75%), and when compared to value for 2004, it has increased 3 points (from 78%).”

Also, the survey found that not only do people favor democracy as the best form of government, but 65% of those surveyed say they are satisfied with democracy, whilst 31% feel the opposite. In N. America, 77% are satisfied, while 21% are not; in W. Europe, the division is 69% vs. 29%. See the chart below for how other regions divided on this.

However, only 47% across all regions believe elections are fair and free in their country, while 30% do not think that their country is governed by the will of the people. These low percentages, I’m sure, are due to partisan-party differences, as in the United States where many Democrats claim that Bush “stole the election.”

For democratic peace activists like me, the global results in favor of democracy are very encouraging, and show that the push for world democratization is doing what people desire. To put this another way, everyone wants to be free. It is not a matter of persuading people about the moral goods of freedom — ending war, democide, and famine, and enriching a nation — but of toppling their thug regimes.

Related Links

“Report Card on Democracy: There have never been more democracies in the world, and the average level of human freedom is now the highest ever recorded. Reasons to celebrate? Yes—and no. “ By Larry Diamond (he is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the coeditor of the Journal of Democracy):

There are dozens of struggling and recently established democracies in the world that have yet to achieve the deep and enduring levels of public and elite legitimacy that signal consolidation. The most common reasons for failure relate to the three crises of governance mentioned earlier: legal, ethnic, and economic. It is too often forgotten that the challenge of building democracy heavily overlaps with that of building the authority and capacity of a viable but restrained state. Whether this broad challenge can be effectively addressed—especially through legal, institutional, and economic reforms of the state’s structure and role—will determine whether democracy continues to prosper in the world or instead gives way to a “third reverse wave” of democratic breakdowns.

RJR: This is an important and informative article, with which I substantially agree.

The World Movement for Democracy:

a global network of democrats including activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, who have come together to cooperate in the promotion of democracy.

” E-Democracy around the World” A survey in pdf:

The dawn of e-democracy is changing the way people interact with government and politicians. Across the world, people are using the Internet in new ways to get information, use services and participate in democracy.

World Audit of Democracy Has a table of all countries giving their ranks on democracy, press freedom, and corruption. The U.S. ranks 14, 13, and 14 respectively. The highest on all is Finland, and at or near the bottom on all is Burma (Myanmar)

“After Neoconservatism” By Francis Fukuyama.

Pro Forma says: The article is basically an outline of how the Bush administration went astray with it’s “Wilsonian realism” program of assertively pushing democracy. I see this as the beginning (well, there have been others, but this is a benchmark) of a groundswell of thinking in American foreign policy that will conclude in a few years (before 2008) with the idea that we should “support” democracy, but reject the arrogant, costly, misguided, intemperate, uncertain (did I miss anything?) Bush agenda of forcible regime change and “in-your-face” democratizing. Which means we are back to shunning democratic movements, and continuing to cozy up to “our” tyrants. Will Bush’s campaign to promote democracy end up a footnote in American Foreign Policy?

RJR: I disagree with Fukuyama’s criticism of “naïve” Wilsonianism, and of the Iraq War. I would call his take on Bush’s “Forward Strategy of Freedom (he claims it is now a “shambles”) as neorealism.