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Is Corruption Bad for Environmental Sustainability? A Cross-National Analysis.

Stephen Morse, University of Reading


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This paper explores the hypothesis that higher levels of corruption are detrimental to environmental sustainability. It does this by employing the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) and its component variables and indicators as promoted by the World Economic Forum and the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) created by Transparency International (TI). Both the CPI and ESI were shown to be statistically significantly related to income (proxied as GDP/capita) such that environmental sustainability declined with decreasing income while corruption worsened. The ESI for 2002 was also divided into indicators representing pressure, state, impact and response (i.e., the PSIR framework), and each of these were regressed onto a ‘residual CPI’ (CPI of 2002 with the influence of income removed). The results suggest that for the most part the pressure, state and impact indicators of the ESI are not correlated with ‘residual’ CPI. The only statistically significant relationships with ‘residual CPI’ were for those of the response indicators of the ESI, although even here the R2 values were low (< 20%). Corruption was found to reduce any positive contribution from the response indicators towards environmental sustainability. However, great care needs to be taken when drawing conclusions from the sort of highly aggregated (spatially as well as mathematically) indices as the ESI and CPI.

Key words

Corruption Perception Index; Environmental Sustainability Index.

Copyright © 2006 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087