The weather may be lousy, the international soccer team even worse and the people nasty, but according to Transparency International’s 2007 rankings Denmark is the world’s least corrupt state (along with Finland and New Zealand, but never mind them for now).
The top ten according to TI:
- Denmark (tie with Finland and New Zealand)
- New Zealand
- Singapore (tie with Sweden)
- Netherlands (tie with Switzerland)
- Canada (tie with Norway)
Low corruption scores seem to be linked with size (relatively small populations). A commentator at Matthew Yglesias suggests that homogeneity plays a role – but then Switzerland and Canada will be outliers (multilingual countries). Switzerland and Canada are also federations. Religion: You could make the argument that protestantism matters, but Singapore, Canada, Switzerland are not protestant countries.
Historically, all of these countries with the exception of Switzerland and the Netherlands come from the Danish, Swedish or British empires – though the Danes and the Swedes on average may have done a better job at introducing good governance than the Brits.
Update: The true nature of the Dutch included – and I’ve tried to do the Brits a little more justice.