The 2011 Arab Spring uprising, partly in reaction to high levels of corruption has made corruption worse in Arab countries that underwent government change. It got worse, much worse. By 2016 62 percent of people in Arab countries thought the corruption had gotten worse. It varied and in Lebanon 92 percent of the people thought it had gotten worse. In Yemen it was 84 percent, 75 percent in Jordan, 28 percent in Egypt and 26 percent in Algeria. Only one country, Tunisia, where the Arab Spring uprisings began, saw fewer people seeing corruption.
Why do some countries suck when it comes to livability and efficient government? There are some countries more people would like to be in and another set of countries that most of the inhabitants want to flee. What causes this? It’s mainly about corruption, and in the 21st century we have a much better idea of how much and where it is. International corruption surveys (especially the two decade old Transparency International project) shows the relative corruption in all the world’s nations. The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index first appeared in 1993 and is assembled by surveying local business people. This reveals a lot of the bad behavior that goes on among government bureaucrats as well as in business and the country in general. The Transparency International poll is a largely voluntary effort that is accurate enough to be used for professional risk management analysis (an essential tool for banks, exporters and potential investors).
Corruption is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The three most corrupt nations have a rating of 8 (Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia) and the least corrupt are 91 (New Zealand and Denmark). A look at this index each year adds an element of reality to official government pronouncements. For example, China has been having more trouble (many and larger demonstrations and growing doubts about the real capabilities of the Chinese military). But in 2014 China’s score was 36, which was down from 40 a year earlier. So whatever China is actually doing about corruption (mostly government press releases), it is not having much impact in reality. While there is more corruption in East Asia than in the West, there are some areas where it is very bad. African nations are the most corrupt, followed by Middle Eastern ones. There Lebanon currently ranks 128th, much worse than China. Jordan ranks 45th, but Jordan is one of those countries expect more and often get results. Not so in Egypt, which ranks 88th and is tied with Algeria, for the same reasons. Tunisia ranks 76, is getting better but not fast enough for most Tunisians.