Majority Worldwide Sees Widespread Corruption in Businesses

Majority Worldwide Sees Widespread Corruption in Businesses

by Mitchell Ogisi

Less-developed countries report more corruption

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About two in three adults worldwide believe corruption is widespread in the businesses in their countries. This belief is relatively commonplace everywhere in the world -- ranging from 60% in the U.S. and Canada to a high of 76% in sub-Saharan Africa -- but it tends to be higher in lower income regions.


Gallup's data, collected in 2011, demonstrate that corruption in business is an issue for developed and developing countries. However, developing nations may suffer more because corruption can stymie financial development and foreign investments and foster income inequality. This is apparent in many developing countries' lower rankings on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index -- which gauges how conducive a country's business environment is to starting and operating a local firm -- and higher levels of perceived corruption.

In several regions, results vary widely across countries -- particularly countries at different stages of development. In Asia, for example, a relatively low 13% of residents in highly developed Singapore perceive corruption as widespread, and the city-state ranks first on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index. In contrast, nearly nine in 10 adults in neighboring Indonesia perceive corruption as widespread in their businesses, and Indonesia's Ease of Doing Business Index ranking is 129.

Business corruption worldwide and Ease of Doing Business Index rank

Perceptions of business corruption also vary widely in former Soviet countries, ranging from a low of 28% in Georgia to a high of 87% in Moldova. Georgians' perceived corruption in business has dropped precipitously since 2006, when more than half the population (52%) viewed the problem as widespread. This decline, and Georgia's Ease of Doing Business Index ranking of 16 worldwide, likely reflect some dividends from the country's efforts to eradicate corruption with a zero-tolerance anti-corruption campaign.

But it is also important to note that high perceived corruption does not always translate into lower Ease of Doing Business Index rankings -- particularly in developed countries with higher GDPs. Paradoxically, higher perceptions of corruption in some wealthier countries may reflect greater transparency and therefore greater awareness among the population of corrupt practices. For example, 85% of Israelis say corruption is widespread in their country's businesses, and their Ease of Doing Business Index ranking is 34.


According to the World Bank, corruption is "one of the single largest obstacles to economic and social development." Corruption in business is an important global concern that involves developing and developed countries. It can be difficult to accurately monitor corruption in business, particularly in countries with little or nonexistent transparency, making tracking their residents' perceptions even more relevant.

Strong leadership, policies, laws, and greater transparency are necessary to fight corruption, which in turn may actually promote job creation and economic development. Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs rely on a stable environment, but widespread corruption makes it difficult to estimate the risks involved in starting new enterprises.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults per country, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2011 in 140 countries. For results based on the total samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±2 percentage points to ±5.1 percentage points.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Corruption worldwide in 140 countries

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