Chart of the week #32: Where is corruption increasing, and where is it falling?

The Citizen, 4/12/14

The Citizen, 4/12/14

Transparency International published their latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) data and report last week. It draws on data from a number of surveys to assess how corrupt each country is perceived to be.

In Tanzania, The Citizen made this their lead story, (though they misreported of the numbers). “Graft up, but Tanzania among the best in East Africa.”

I’ve taken a look at the data, and there are some interesting insights in here.

I have two charts for you. The first simply shows each country’s CPI score since 2012, for Tanzania and all her neighbours, plus a handful of other comparable countries – Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Botswana. A higher score is better, the maximum possible score is 100:

As you can see, Botswana is way off ahead, and Burundi and the DRC are bringing up the rear.

But the chart above doesn’t do a good job of showing the most interesting aspect of this data: the speed and direction of changes in perceptions of corruption.

So I’ve done another one, this time showing how each country’s CPI score has changed since 2012: has the score gone up or down, and by how much? A positive number means the score has gone up since 2012 (corruption getting better), and negative means it has gone down (corruption getting worse):

This time, the story is quite different. Senegal has made the most progress since 2012, according to the CPI, with their score rising by an impressive 7 points. On the other hand, three countries’ scores dropped by four points since 2012: Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda. (Rwanda can’t be seen on the chart because their line matches Malawi’s exactly.)

Uganda’s score also declined substantially (-3 points), as did Kenya’s (-2). Even Botswana, the country with the best score in Africa saw their score drop by 2 points.

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As usual, we should be careful not to misinterpret this data. It doesn’t measure corruption itself, because that is impossible to measure in any precise way. Instead, it measures perceptions of corruption, using data from 12 international sources. This is not the same as corruption, but Transparency International argue that “capturing perceptions of corruption of those in a position to offer assessments of public sector corruption is the most reliable method of comparing relative corruption levels across countries.”

One thought on “Chart of the week #32: Where is corruption increasing, and where is it falling?

  1. Justin Williams

    Thanks for this Ben. Makes me wonder what is happening on anti-corruption in Senegal! Must try and find out. However it’s worth remembering that the CPI data has confidence intervals and many of the smaller changes you highlight are within these bounds. See this rather critical post from the Global Anti-Corruption Blog:

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