Corruption Perception Index 2016: how to follow the leaders?

Every year, by the end of January, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The higher score in the survey indicates a lower level of perceived corruption by business practitioners and experts.

The results of this year’s edition do not surprise. Denmark and New Zealand came first and were followed by Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore and the Netherlands. Like in the previous years, Scandinavian countries scored very high. The most corrupted countries include North Korea, South Sudan, Somalia –  underdeveloped counties, which have struggled with serious social, political and economic challenges for many years.

It must be highlighted, that the Index discusses corruption in the public sector and does not directly refer to the perceived level of corruption in the private sector, which is also a serious problem in many countries.

Poland’s score has not changed considerably since 2015. It was ranked 29 out of 176 surveyed countries and got the same score as last year. Obviously, the measures such as the Polish Government Anti-Corruption Program for 2013-2018  will not bring measurable results overnight.

Why are the Scandinavian countries ranked so high every year?

Higher-ranked Scnadinavian countries tend to enjoy a higher degree of public confidence. According to the European Social Survey 2014-2015  the leaders in this category were Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Island. The Netherlands and Switzerland, i.e. countries from CPI top 10, were also assessed high. Poland was at the bottom of the list, which means a low level of citizens’ trust and confidence in the state and local politicians.

In the Nordic countries people tend to declare high public confidence for many reasons, such as social order, transparency of public organizations, insignificant income inequality, high quality of the health care system and the legal system, and gender equality, reflected even in a high proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments. Developed civil society, efficient government administration and independent media prevent the abuse of power and corruption. That is why, Scandinavia, where people declare high confidence in the state, is ranked so high in most surveys.

Is there any relation between corruption perceptions and bureaucracy?

There is a strong link between corruption perceptions and the World Bank’s ranking on the ease of doing business. The ranking measures the ease of doing business, i.e. assesses whether regulations applicable to business entities enhance or constrain doing business. The higher the score the more efficient the business regulations and protection of property rights. The top ten of the World Bank’s ranking is populated by CPI leaders: New Zealand came first in both rankings, Denmark was third and was followed by other Scandinavian countries. Poland was ranked 24, having improved every year in the World Bank’s ranking, which implies certain advancement over time.

The results indicate that the lower public confidence the higher the perceived level of corruption. The examples of the CPI leaders show that anti-corruption campaigns may be insufficient to achieve any improvement in this area. More attention, however, should be paid to building public confidence, which will certainly translate into better scores in future.

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