States as Measured by Levels of Official Corruption

The lighter the shading, the less corrupt the state.
The lighter the shading, the less corrupt the state.

Here’s a dry-as-dust academic article that basically says that the ten most corrupt states in the US spent about $1300 per state resident more in government monies each year, perhaps as a result of that corruption.

It is unsurprising that corrupt states overspend public money.  And, of course, we’d all probably prefer to live in an ‘honest’ state.

There’s one reason in particular why we feel that honest states are important for us as preppers – if/when we have a major Level 2/3 situation occur, we suggest that the more honest the state, the (slightly) less likely there will be an orchestrated public taking of private property (ie of our supplies) and the greater the respect for pre-existing rules of law and private property rights.

A huge problem is how do you measure corruption?  Endemic corruption usually occurs in regions where laws are poorly enforced, and where courts are unlikely to impose severe punishments.

This report measures a wide array of convicted crimes by officials : accepting bribes, awarding government contracts to vendors without competitive bidding, accepting kickbacks from private entities engaged in or pursuing business with the government, overstating travel expenses or hours worked, selling information on criminal histories and law enforcement information to private companies, mail fraud, using government credit cards for personal purchases, sexual misconduct, falsifying official documents, theft of government computer equipment for an international computer piracy group, extortion, robbery, and soliciting bribes by police officers, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, and smuggling illegal aliens.

We can only guess if the levels of convictions matches the underlying level of actual active corruption.  But, if we assume there is at least some weak correlation between the two, it is interesting to see how the states match up.  Unfortunately, although the article ranks the states from least to most corrupt, it provides no data as to how much difference in perceived corruption levels there is between the most and least corrupt states.

It also makes no attempt to get more finely focused than state-wide data.  If you think of some states, there may be some corrupt big cities and also some stalwartly honest smaller towns and rural counties.

Data has been obtained from convictions between 1976 – 2008.

So, use this data with a grain of salt.  But, as always, it provides another small hint as to better and worse places to choose to base your future retreat.

States Ranked from Least to Most Corrupt

2Washington27Rhode Island
5Iowa30New Jersey
7Utah32West Virginia
8New Hampshire33Montana
11Wisconsin36South Carolina
12Wyoming37North Dakota
14Michigan39New York
15North Carolina40Oklahoma
18Maine43South Dakota
23New Mexico48Tennessee


It is interesting to see the major difference in rating between Idaho (a good rating of 13th) and adjoining Montana, with a disappointing placing of 33rd.

But, and as we said before, these numbers are dubious rather than definite.

2 Replies to “States as Measured by Levels of Official Corruption”

  1. Scott

    Oregon the least corrupt? Hmm based on recent events with Cover Oregon and other financial debacles, this State needs a closer look.

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