Transparency International has launched its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, which again “highlights the fatal link between poverty, failed institutions and graft”. While corruption is a problem everywhere, poor countries are the ones affected most: “‘In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,’ said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. ‘The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated.'”

A closer look at the worldmap or the country ranking reveals four main factors which are very likely to contribute most to a less corrupt environment: the rule of law, democracy, freedom of speech, and a market economy.

– Without the rule of law corruption goes unpunished and remains an easy and attractive way to make money.
– Democracy enables the people to get rid of corrupt leaders, governments and elites without taking up arms.
– Freedom of speech enables everyone to speak up against corrupt institutions or individuals.
– A market economy enables everyone to enrich themselves and their families without hurting other people’s economic development. In fact, by creating win-win-situations it enables and forces people to enrich themselves in ways that are helpful to others.