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Corruption … on the rise?

9 December 2010
by Brian Keeley

People around the world believe corruption has worsened since the financial crisis struck, according to a survey from graft-watchers Transparency International, which was released today to mark World Anti-Corruption Day.

Developed regions saw the biggest rise in the numbers of people who felt the problem was now more serious than three years ago: 73% in Western Europe and 67% in North America. According to Huguette Labelle, the head of Transparency International, that’s in part a consequence of the recent economic turmoil: “The fall-out of the financial crises continues to affect people’s opinions of corruption,” she said.

 Transparency International surveyed more than 90,000 in 86 places around the world for the 2010 edition of its Global Corruption Barometer, and the report  offers some fascinating insights into how bribery affects people’s daily lives.

In total about one in four people said they had paid a bribe in the past year, a level unchanged since 2006. In regional terms, the proportion ranged from 56% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa to 5% in both North America and the European Union.  

The police were the institution most associated with bribe-taking, with 29% of people who had contact with them saying they paid up. Next were registry and  permit services (20%) and the judiciary (14%).

Half of respondents felt their government’s actions to fight corruption were ineffective, but – more positively – a big majority (almost seven out of ten) felt the general public could make a difference in the fight against graft.

Separately, a BBC survey suggests corruption is the world’s most-discussed problem. Just over one in five respondents to the survey said they had discussed corruption with family and friends in the past month. The survey also suggests that corruption is regarded as the world’s second most serious problem, just behind extreme poverty and ahead of environmental degradation/climate change and terrorism.

Useful links

 OECD work on bribery and corruption

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