Mar 282013

Corruption is a serious concern in Mexico and these other four major emerging economies. Corruption is rather subjective and not an easy concept to measure. This post looks into corruption in Mexico, Brazil, China, India and Russia, as reported by Transparency International (TI) in its Perceived Corruption Index 2012 and the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Report for 2012-2013.

Transparency International’s “Index of Perceived Corruption” is based on a wide array of surveys, polls of international experts and interviews with knowledgeable residents. In TI’s analysis of 2007 results, Mexico, Brazil, China and India were all tied at 72nd out of 179 countries. Russia was far behind at 143rd However, by 2012, Mexico had slipped to 105th; India had dropped to 94th, China to 80th, while Brazil improved a bit to 69th. (See also Tim Padgett’s “Tale of Two Corruptos: Brazil and Mexico on Different Transparency Paths”.) Russia moved up a bit, but still was 133rd. Mexico’s fall in the rankings might have been associated with the explosion of drug cartel violence between 2007 and 2012.

The World Justice Project (WJP)’s 2012-2013 Report “Absence of Corruption” ranked Brazil and China at 38th of 97 countries; Russia was ranked 70th, Mexico 74th and India 81st. These WJP rankings do not correlate very well with those of Transparency International (IT). For example, Russia appears far more corrupt in the TI rankings, while India looks more corrupt on the WJP rankings.

The WJP looks into four separate corruption sub-factors. These are listed below with the ranks of the five countries:

1. Government officials in the executive branch do not use public office for private gain.

  • Brazil (40th of 97), Mexico (49th), China (49th), Russia (56th) India (89th)

2. Government officials in the judicial branch do not use public office for private gain.

  • Brazil (33rd), India (52nd), Russia (67th), China (70th), Mexico (84th)

3. Government officials in the police and the military do not use public office for private gain.

  • China (36th), Brazil (37th), Russia (67th), Mexico (84th), India (86th)

4. Government officials in the legislative branch do not use public office for private gain.

  • China (30th), Mexico (51th), Brazil (75th), Russia (77th), India (81st)

The results suggest that Mexico’s main corruption problems are not with the executive and legislative branches, perhaps because the Mexican constitution limits elected officials to only one term. The main problems are with the judicial and police/military branches. Mexico’s judicial reform program which is currently being implemented, should reduce judicial and police corruption. Also police and penal code reforms advocated by President Peña Nieto’s “Pact for Mexico” should help. Mexico’s future corruption ranks according to both TI and WJP could be a bit better because the “Pact for Mexico” identifies corruption as a priority. Only time will tell.

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