Published On: Sun, Jan 1st, 2017

Corruption and Wealth – how they correlate by country

As expected, corruption is bad for wealth.  History Future Now was researching for an article and needed some data to cross reference.  One was the correlation between the GPD per capita – which is the entire country’s cross domestic product (roughly corresponding to income) divided by the number of people in the country – and the level of transparency and corruption in the country.  HFN could not find a chart to match the two so pulled one together using data from the CIA for country GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis and information from Transparency International, an organisation that tracks corruption and transparency.

The full chart is below, which you can expand on your screens, but you may still have issues reading it.  Below the full chart are some more detailed screenshots.

Several things are clear:

    1. As expected, there is a strong correlation between wealth and lack of corruption.  The poorest countries in the world – those towards the top of the chart – are generally the most corrupt – those towards the right hand side of the chart.  African countries and Muslim countries feature strongly in this list.
    2. There are anomalies.  Iraq, Venezuela, Libya, Angola for example have relatively high GDP per capita numbers – represented by the size of the bubbles and the fact that they are lower on the chart – but are extremely corrupt.   This is generally due to a failing in GDP per capita as a measure of a country’s wealth.  The country can be very rich – in terms of oil revenue, for example – but very little of that wealth is spread throughout the country.
    3. The richest countries are significantly richer than the poorest.  The bigger the bubbles the larger the GDP per capita income is.  In the chart below the richest and least corrupt countries are located at the bottom left.  Theses countries are generally the early members of the European Union followed by later entrants to the European Union after them.   Small trading and  banking centres such as Hong Kong, The Bahamas and Malta also do well. 
    4. There are some GDP per capita anomalies here as well.  The oil rich gulf states of UAE and Qatar (which is the wealthiest country in the world by GDP per capita by far) have very high GDPs per capita though the wealth is not spread that evenly.
    5. There are also some corruption anomalies – Italy and Greece, despite being relatively wealthy, are more corrupt than countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, Turkey, South Africa and even Botswana – which does remarkably well.
    6. In the middle block, China and Russia appear.  China scores better than Russia from the perspective of corruption but its GDP per capita is worse.  Russia is a bit of an embarrassment from a European perspective.  It is the most corrupt European nation by far and the closest to it in terms of corruption is its client state, Belarus.




About the Author

- Tristan Fischer is the author of all the articles on History Future Now. He is the Chairman of Lumicity Ltd, a company developing renewable energy infrastructure projects, Chairman of Fischer Farms Ltd, a vertical farming company using hydroponics, and a board Director of Fish From Ltd, an onshore salmon company. He previously worked for Camco International, Shell Renewables and Citigroup. He was educated at Cambridge University. To find out more click here:

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