A report by Transparency International (TI) found that about 70% of nations are perceived to have serious corruption problems.
The organization, which describe themselves as “the global coalition against corruption,” have measured levels of corruption around the world regarding government, politics, business, and civil society — as perceived by survey respondents.
Founded in 1993 in Berlin, the organization published its first Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 1995, since which time they’ve done extensive research on corruption, promoting transparency, integrity, and accountability, among other core values.
Widespread EU problems
A recent report by the European Commission on perceived EU corruption, released in 2014, identified pervasive problems in Europe.
75% of survey respondents reported widespread problems, and over half reported an increase, the BBC says.
The corrupt are estimated to have cost the EU economy 120 billion euros (or more) due in part to bribery and fraud.
Most affected EU nations included Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, and Cyprus. In these nations, 40 – 70% of respondents agreed that it affected their daily lives.
In light of the EU’s findings, it makes sense to view European corruption in context with the rest of the world. How bad is it, really?
Global corruption research
TI’s 2015 Index, which includes 177 nations, ranks countries from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Almost 70% (68%, to be exact) were perceived to have serious corruption problems.
Nations with the cleanest scores (91) are Denmark and New Zealand, in stark contrast with North Korea, Somalia, and Afghanistan, tied for last with a score of 8.
In the most recent index, Denmark rose to a record 92 out of 100, but the bottom three nations saw no progression.
TI debuted its Global Corruption Barometer in 2003, and has since surveyed people around the world on their experiences and compiled the data using interactive charts and maps.
One way in which TI sorts research data is by types of corruption. They found that:
- 51/101 countries perceive political parties as the institution most affected by the corrupt (including the U.S., Canada, Australia, most of EU)
- 20/107 countries perceive the Judiciary as most corrupt (including Ukraine, Peru, Afghanistan, DR Congo)
- 36/107 countries perceive the police as most corrupt (including Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, Pakistan, most of S. Africa)
As is apparent, every nation has their own way of being corrupt. Other types mentioned in the report included the media, public officials, education, and religious bodies.
Corruption in the EU may certainly be widespread, though CPI shows only 23% of EU/Western European nations ranked below 50 — a relatively good percentage compared to the Middle East/North Africa and Sub-Saharan African regions.
Where does the U.S. stand?
In the 2013 CPI, the U.S. comes in 19th place with a score of 73.
According to TI’s global barometer, of Americans surveyed:
- 36% felt currupt activities were on the rise in the past two years; 24% felt that it increased a little; only 7% and 3% detected a slight or great decrease, respectively
- 76% felt that political parties were corrupt/extremely corrupt
- Over half reported media corruption (58%), parliament corruption (61%), business corruption (53%), and public official corruption (55%)
- 15% reported having paid a bribe to the Judiciary
TI lists financial regulation, government and politics, and political financing (Super PACs) as America’s greatest weaknesses, alongside positive improvements including the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which rewards whistle-blowing and requires Wall Street transparency and accountability.
While overall perceptions seem a little grim, there’s a bright side here: 75% of Americans surveyed that they felt ordinary people could make a difference in the battle against the corrupt.