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Countries Are Ranked On Everything From Health To Happiness. What's The Point? (NPR)

June 14, 2019

It's a brand new ranking.

Other rankings come in for criticism of another type: They're just kind of vague.

Consider Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, which attempts to rank the world's countries by how corrupt their public sectors are. "A fuzzy concept like corruption isn't amenable to unpacking," says Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and the author of Results Not Receipts: Counting The Right Things In Corruption.

A long-standing criticism from the international community is that the index relies on the perception of corruption to create its rankings.

The rankings are based on questionnaires with "experts and business leaders," according to the group. They're asked about a wide range of factors, from evidence of bribery to protections for whistleblowers.

That vagueness can make it difficult for local anti-corruption advocates and nonprofits to figure out what they need to do to fight the scourge in their countries: "Should I try to make the police less corrupt or should I join a government partnership to reduce corruption?" says Kenny.

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Director of Technology and Development and Senior Fellow