Survey: Worldwide Corruption Is Growing

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 12:22 PM

By Michael Kling

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Corruption is widespread and growing worldwide, causing people around the world to lose faith in their governments, a new survey reveals.

More than half of the 114,000 people in 107 countries surveyed by a corruption watchdog Transparency International believe corruption has become worse in the last two years, and more than one in four paid a bribe in the last 12 months.

Before the financial crisis began in 2008, 31 percent of those surveyed said their government's efforts to fight corruption were effective. This year it fell to 22 percent.

Editor's Note:
This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

The good news is that survey participants believe they can combat corruption. Almost nine out of 10 said they would act against corruption and two-thirds of those asked to pay a bribe had refused. That suggests that governments and businesses should do more to help people thwart corruption.

"Bribe paying levels remain very high worldwide, but people believe they have the power to stop corruption and the number of those willing to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery is significant," said Huguette Labelle, the chair of corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Yet in many countries those supposed to be fighting corruption are not trusted.

In 36 countries, people view police as the most corrupt. In 20 countries, the judiciary is seen as the most corrupt.

"Governments need to take this cry against corruption from their citizenry seriously and respond with concrete action to elevate transparency and accountability," Labelle said. “Strong leadership is needed from the G20 governments, in particular. In the 17 countries surveyed in the G20, 59 percent of respondents said their government is not doing a good job at fighting corruption."

Unfortunately, many survey participants lack faith in their political leaders. Political parties are seen as the most corrupt in 51countries, and 55 percent of survey respondents think government is run by specials interests.

"Governments need to make sure that there are strong, independent and well-resourced institutions to prevent and redress corruption," Labelle said. "Too many people are harmed when these core institutions and basic services are undermined by the scourge of corruption."

Many studies have failed to find proof linking corruption and economic growth, writes Columbia University political scientist Chris Blattman in his blog, calling corruption "an Anglo-American fetish."

Although corruption can be like a tax that does not finance public services, it can also improve efficiency where bureaucracies and organizations are inefficient, he explained.

"Westerners care about corruption far out of proportion to its impact on poverty alleviation and economic growth."

Editor's Note: This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

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