The most corrupt countries in the world
More than half of the world’s population believes corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Liberia and Mongolia are the two most corrupt countries in the world, according to a recent study. In both countries, 86% of residents believe corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem. Residents in the vast majority of countries around the world believe corruption has only gotten worse in the past two years.
Anti-corruption nonprofit Transparency International has released its 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, which surveyed residents in 107 countries. The world’s corrupt nations differ in many ways. Four are located in Africa, three in Latin America and two in Asia. These nations also vary considerably in size and population. Mongolia has just 3.2 million residents, while Mexico, Nigeria and Russia are three of the largest countries on the globe, each with more than 100 million people. Based on the percentage of surveyed residents that reported corruption in the public sector is a very serious problem, these are the world’s most corrupt nations.
What many of these nations do have in common is that their people are largely opposed to corruption. Globally, 69% of people questioned by Transparency International said they would report corruption if they encountered it. In seven of the nine nations with the worst corruption, residents were at least slightly more likely to oppose corruption. In Paraguay, one of the countries with high corruption, 90% of citizens said they would report corruption, while 87% and 86% said they would do so in Mexico and Russia, respectively.
Many of those surveyed in the highly corrupt countries also felt their governments were not holding up their end of the bargain. In seven of the nine countries, more than half of those questioned felt their government was ineffective at fighting corruption. In Liberia, 86% of residents surveyed said their government was ineffective at fighting the problem. This was the largest proportion of any of the 107 nations Transparency International surveyed.
While corruption appears to affect every part of the public sector, certain segments were much worse than the rest. Globally, at least 60% of respondents claimed political parties and police were corrupt. Additionally, more than 50% of people stated their legislature, their public officials and their judiciary were corrupt.
In the world’s most corrupt nations, those institutions were, naturally, even worse. In Nigeria, 94% of people claimed their political parties were corrupt, the most in the worl d. Similarly, 96% of Liberians reported their legislature was corrupt, also the most in the world. In eight of the nine most corrupt nations, more than 80% of residents considered the police to be corrupt.
Many of these nations remain among the world’s less-developed, and they lack the resources of the United States, Japan and the European Union nations. Among the most corrupt nations, only Mexico, Russia and Venezuela had an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita over $10,000 in 2012. None were among the top 50 nations measured in GDP per capita. By comparison, the U.S. per capita GDP was estimated to be nearly $50,000.
Based on figures published by Transparency International, 24/7 Wall St. determined the nations with the highest percentage of respondents who claimed corruption was a very serious problem. Transparency International also provided other figures on corruption perception. Data on GDP by nation came from the International Monetary Fund. Population statistics are from The CIA World Factbook.
In September 2011, Zambia held elections that resulted in the election of President Michael Sata. Since Sata’s victory, several officials from the past administration, including former President Rupiah Banda, have been arrested for corruption. Complicating matters, many of the corruption allegations relate to government officials receiving improper benefits from Chinese investors, who are unpopular in much of the count ry yet provide direct investment and jobs. Zambia’s residents are poor, with an estimated GDP per capita of just $1,722 in 2012, versus nearly $50,000 in the United States. An extremely high 85% of residents claimed they had been asked to pay a bribe in the past.
In Nigeria, 84% of those surveyed by Transparency International claimed corruption had increased in the past two years, a higher percentage than almost any other country in the world. Troublingly, 75% of those surveyed also said the government was, at best, ineffective at fighting corruption, worse than in all but 10 countries. Nigeria is heavily dependent on the oil industry, yet the government refuses to act on accusations the oil companies underreporting the value of the resources they extract and the tax they owe by billions of dollars. Certain transparency groups also blamed politicians for encouraging corruption. In 2012, Nigeria had just the 37th largest GDP in the world, despite having the world’s seventh largest population.
According to 82% of individuals surveyed, it is important to have personal contacts to get anything done in Russia’s public sector. Additionally, 85% of Russians stated the government was run by just a few large entities for their own best interests. The only two other countries where residents were more likely to feel this way were Lebanon and Cyprus. The latter w as known until recently as a haven for Russian oligarchs’ money. These hyper-wealthy individuals often have close political ties, which allowed many to become wealthy during Russia’s post-Soviet privatization.
In few nations were personal connections considered to be more important than in Paraguay. As many as 88% of the country’s residents said such contacts were important in getting things done within the public sector, a higher proportion than all but two other countries worldwide. This was also the reasoning behind the majority of bribes, with 63% of all such payments going toward speeding up a service. Worse, 78% of residents noted that their government had been either ineffective or very ineffective at fighting corruption, one of the highest proportions worldwide.
Globally, 53% of individuals surveyed by Transparency International claimed that corruption had risen in the past two years. However, in Mexico, that figure was 71% as the country’s citizens have become less tolerant of corruption. In addition, 72% of those polled stated the Mexican government was ineffective in fighting corruption, while 78% claimed that having personal contacts w as either important or very important in getting the public sector to be helpful. Last year, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won elections nationwide to return to power despite previous allegations of heavy corruption. In a July 2012 article, Time magazine described corruption as “the stubborn remnant of the PRI’s seven decades of authoritarian rule that is at the heart of the drug lords’ ability to operate in Mexico.”
Roughly 77% of those surveyed claimed that corruption in Zimbabwe had risen in the past two years, a higher percentage than in all but a few other countries. Potentially contributing to this rise, longtime President Robert Mugabe failed to keep past elections free from violence and voting irregularities. Mugabe’s opponent is likely far more popular with the people, but the upcoming elections on July 31 could still end up rigged in the Mugabe’s favor. More than three-quarters of residents stated that the government was run largely or entirely by a few entities acting in their own best interests.
Venezuela’s long-ruling socialist president, Hugo Chavez, passed away in March. Corruption was a concern in Venezuela since before Chavez’s first election victory in 1998. His chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, has vowed to end corruption, which has often been associated with Venezuela’s socialist government. Before April’s presidential election,
opposition candidate Henrique Capriles claimed that nationalization of private businesses allowed public officials to control major industries for personal profit. In Venezuela, 79% of respondents said their nation’s political officials were corrupt, among the highest percentages in the world.
Mongolia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies in 2012, when its GDP rose an estimated 12.3%, according to the IMF. But corruption has been identified by USAID as a critical threat to the country’s continued growth as well as to its democracy. Corruption has become pervasive in the country, after “rapid transition to democracy and a market economy created huge demands on bureaucracy that lacks the [means] to prevent corruption,” according to the organization. Encouragingly, less than half of all people surveyed in the country said that corruption had increased in the past two years, versus 53% of respondents worldwide. Also, while 77% of people considered public officials to be corrupt, just 12% believed the country’s government to be run by a few large, purely self-interested entities.
The vast majority of Liberians surveyed said they believed the country was run either largely or entirely by a few entities acting in their own self-interest. A world-leading 86% of residents who spoke to Transparency International claimed their government had been either ineffective or very ineffective at fighting corruption, while 96% of residents claimed Liberia’s legislature was corrupt, also the highest percentage of any nation. A stunning 75% of residents surveyed claimed they had paid a bribe to secure some service, trailing only Sierra Leone. In all, 80% of the population had at one point been asked to pay a bribe. Recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf fired the country’s auditor general for corruption.