Corruption Perceptions Index 2009: What does a number mean to you?

Read about the Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 here.

Read about the Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 here.

For regional perspectives on the CPI 2011 results see here:

For a blog post defining public sector corruption click here and to read about our CPI Iphone App see here.

Global Map - Individual Countries of the WorldA quick search on the internet for country rankings returns thousands of results. Some tell you that Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world, while others label Germany the most beloved. Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) will also show up. 180 countries ranked according to their perceived level of public sector corruption. But what lies behind each score?

Since 1995 Transparency International has published each year the CPI, ranking countries on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption). The results of the 2009 edition, as every year, are sobering. No region or country in the world is immune to the damages of corruption, the vast majority of them score below 5.

The CPI has played a critical role in branding the issue of corruption on the world’s conscience. It sends a powerful message and national governments have been forced to take notice and act. The demand for public sector governance that keeps the interests of its citizens first with openness and accountability is not limited to a country or region – this is a common goal that transcends borders and cultures.

The public sector is just one side of a multi-faceted problem though. Transparency International conducts an array of global research, such as the Global Corruption Barometer, a world wide public opinion survey, and the Bribe Payers Index, which measures the likelihood of firms from leading exporting countries to bribe abroad, which taken together enables us to better comprehend the many sides of corruption.

Corruption is notoriously difficult to measure. The complexity and secrecy that shroud corrupt deals mean that it is virtually impossible to quantify the financial cost of corruption. The human expense is clear to see though, and it is the poorest that are most vulnerable. The diversity of victims that seek help from one of TI’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres shows that corruption can affect anyone. As we support these individuals, their personal triumphs are translated into systemic change – proving that corruption can be fought and beaten.

It may be that the CPI scores are just a number to you, but for many people around the world it is their daily reality. It need not be so. As Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International, notes, “These 180 countries in our index are your countries, and their perceived levels of corruption will remain as such until you demand accountability.”

What does that number mean to you?

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About Michael Sidwell

Michael Sidwell is Editor of Print and Online Publications at Transparency International.

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83 Responses to Corruption Perceptions Index 2009: What does a number mean to you?

  1. Belkys M Nuñez Espinal 5 July 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Para cambiar paradigmas sociales es indispensable perder el miedo a hacer el ridiculo y asumir compromiso personal e individual, de dar continuidad a los valores morales adquiridos en el seno familiar, aunque ello signifique ser catalogada de “anormal” por personas inescrupulosas que forman parte de uno de dos grupos: corruptores y corruptos, o lo que es sinonimo: empresarios acostumbrados historicamente a legitimar capitales ilicitos y por el otro lado, funcionarios publicos que doblan las rodillas ante el asomo de billetes que compran conciencia y voluntades.
    Como resumen de mi experiencia personal en la Republica Dominicana, he sido objeto de amenaza de muerte por presentar oposicion escrita ante las principales instituciones del pais, a quienes he advertido que con el fruto de mi trabajo no van a estafar a mi pueblo. Obtuve aprobacion del Congreso Nacional para construir nuevos hospitales, los cuales han adulterado hasta un 500% de sus costos.
    Este es apenas un caso de tantos que ocurren a diario en esta maravillosa tierra llamada Republica Dominicana, gobernada por ambiciosos sin control de las autoridades.

  2. Fatima 8 July 2010 at 1:37 am #

    I have been researching corruption and anticorruption measures in the developing world over the past decade one trend I have notice in several instances is that some of the very people who see themselves as the victims, the champions of integrity and turn out to be the ones who are behind the shady deals. My question is how do we figure who is really the voice of reason and who is the transgressor? I found several instances where businesses blindly entered deals in new markets outside of their normal operating area and found out to late usually after a deal was completed that their in country reps were the ones doing the back door dealings–how do they prevent retaliation from the rogue rep. In the U.S. many of the large multinationals have extensive vetting procedures–but what options are there for small to medium size firms attempting to go internationally with in country representatives to prevent them from getting burned by their reps.

  3. Global Justice 9 August 2010 at 4:38 am #

    We had a global market crash and lost a projected $34 trillion dollars in assets. World leaders did not demand an audit of the systems that caused this calamity. Instead world leaders put sovereign assets at risk to bail out corrupt multinational banks, that cannot accept their losses. World leaders bailed out these banks without consideration of risk to sovereign states. The global corruption seems to follow democracy as the countries at most risk are the United States and western Europe. Transparency International needs to use the same tools the big banks are using, cloud computing. These are very complex system to analyze.

  4. Sular 10 August 2010 at 11:20 am #

    It is very informative website. Lot of correct and valued information is there. There are lot of corruption case of many countries and their top leaders either in politic army or govt servent. How long poor peoples will suffer to meet their both ends? Whereas such peoples rolling in million and billion.
    If an ordanary man, his living standard improved by illegal means the higher authorites immediately in action to investigate and freez his assets. I have noticed such examples while i was in London in 2005-6. A case happened in Royal Mail London. Some in Midland for misusing of public benefits. Most of such cases bring to the court and criminal get punished and deprived by their unfaremeans income.So the peoples are afraid to commit such crimes.
    Question is why not we take action against the head of states of the poor countries who are mostly begging the funds from IMF, World Bank,and other doner agencies for the improvement of the publice development projects.They are put burden of tax to the poor peoples, increasing the utilities bills etc etc and high prices of food stuff without reason. While these leaders have full control of the production and distribution. They are the owner of the many factories and have percentage as commission/bribe. These elite class and their family living laveshly in USA Duabi UK or EU where they have estate.
    Please coordinate the international organisation to take the action against such ciminial peoples and bring them into international court of justice, freez their assets and return the money to said country for the benefit of the poor public.
    There are lot of reports against Musharraf but he is living high standard in London no one take to task him. He is under protection by UK govt. There are lot of question arising that international agencies are protecting head of states because they were working as spy and working for their benefit to destablise the country and instutions according to their will.
    Condisering these reports and no action against such criminals leaders all is rubbish. We are wasting our times to read such information and boil up our blood.You are just recommending but no action. Poor peoples will suffer for their basic needs and rulers are enjoying their life through unfavor means.WHO WILL CHECK THEM?? Hoping time will come they will get punish by GOD for their all crimes. There is better late then never.

  5. Areh Obiora 1 September 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    As a nation, Nigeria was plague by inter-ethnic differences which transcended to sharp practices,nepotism,and corruption .Over the years our leadership have sectionalized development,institutionalized corruption and promoted tribalism.
    Efforts of previous Government to fight the menace was termed political.All the same machineries have been put in place to fight the ill.
    Corruption is still very high in Nigeria because of inefficiencies of anti graft agencies, regulatory bodies and the potentiality of transmitting same.
    Nevertheless, things are taking shape for the better.

  6. Farid Ahmad 23 September 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I think most of the peoples know very well about this fact that corruption is not only illegal but also a sin however people don’t know its impacts effects and outcomes.
    This topic must be focused at each level and awareness should be provided to peoples through literature, research reports, theater dramas, Tv dramas as well as through syllabus of school and college level so that every one could understand its nature, effects and outcomes.
    It should also be propagated that
    1- who are involve in corruption
    2- where from they belong ?
    3- where from they got education?
    4- where they live ?
    I think we jointly can do much better for this task.

  7. albaro perez 27 September 2010 at 8:14 am #

    corruption is equal to,misery,moral and material.Moral in the government,material in the people,corruption is equal to dependency to another corrupt and bigger nation who takes your natural resources almost free,and they give some dollars to the corrupt government of the small nation,then the people of this small nation never get nothing from anybody and they just have to survive in the total misery,watching how the servers of the big and dirty nation enjoy nice cars,beautiful houses,nice studies for their childrens.
    thanks God all this misery has been stopped in my country BOLIVIA

  8. Aaron 30 September 2010 at 3:23 am #

    Some of the countries on the list are quite large and diverse. As someone from the United States, I know that in my country corruption is very high in some places and very low in others. I would be interested to see how each of the 50 states would rank on CPI.

  9. Annette John 22 October 2010 at 1:30 am #

    I am from the Caribbean Island of Trinidad and Tobago, it is with growing fear and concern that I put my thoughts together. After our recent General Elections in May of this year, a new political entity was sworn into office called the People’s Partnership. This coilation consist of about four to five polictial parties. From May to present slowly the rights of citizens in my country Trinidad and Tobago is being eroded. The media is no longer an avenue that innocent and just citizens can turn towards when politicians fail us. The lead up to the May Election process was unethically controlled and manipulated by all media houses in Trinidad and Tobago, people who disagreed with the media role in our political system was discredited and vitimised by media houses. Now to make matters worse the new government has launch a campaign to fire and render unemployed all persons in the Public Sector who they believe to be supporters of the country’s official opposition party. Over five thousand persons have lost they jobs thus far. To make matters worst this campaign has taken on another insidious dimension of racism, where persons of African descent are loosing their jobs because they are Africans. Please note that the government is lead by someone of East Indian descent, who is openly showing favouritism in the distribution of the country’s resources only to people of East Indian descent. The media has launch an extensive campaign to paint the new govenment in a good light, while beyond the surface mischief is at work. I call on all right thinking persons outside of my country Trinidad and Tobago to help the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who don’t have a voice at this time. The television stations, radio stations, and print media are the enemy of the people in Trinidad and Tobago. It more alarming to note that several renowned journalists in Trinidad and Tobago have taken political appointments within the new government of Trinidad and Tobago. I appeal for help for the people of Trinidad and Tobago a situation like this could only get worst. Please note also that the media houses in played a large part in the fall of the previous government by launching a campaign of attack against the former Prime Minister, this attack span over a three-year period and never let up until they aim was achieved. Please help the people of Trinidad and Tobago…

  10. Georg Neumann
    Georg Neumann 24 October 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Thanks to all for your comments on last year’s Corruption Perceptions Index and the concerns you have expressed on corruption around the world and pointing out the issues in your countries. We really appreciate you sharing these experiences with us.

    @aaron While there is not yet such an index, have a look at this map showing the number of public corruption convictions in the USA:

    So this is just to let you know that on Tuesday, 26 October, we’ll be launching the 2010 edition. Stay tuned.

  11. Barry Cowlishaw 26 October 2010 at 10:34 am #

    I find it interesting that the New Zealand is at the top of the list as being the least corrupt.

    That such perceived? conclusions are reached without considering the actuality is of some concern when you consider that The media is pretty much owned and controlled from Australia as are the significant banks all since privatisation

    The Privatisation era; was where Corporations were “penned into creation” as instruments to conceal transfer and harvest generations of both Taxpayers and Ratepayers investments in community and infrastructure- as per the NZ Crimes Act 1961 section 243 money laundering- an Act- only “said” to bind the crown

    Any expressions of opposition to this “Organized Criminal behavior” meets

    a\- No access to courts
    b\- No interest from controlled media
    c\- It becomes difficult to drive down the road without drawing the attention of law enforcement officers that will keep you in court defending petty but expensive misdemeanors or contrived offenses
    d\- Banking problems that again tax your time

    When clear evidence points to Corporate (criminally conceived)failures or additional Criminal behavior from Corporates our wonderful media and/or Court Structure are quick to suppress the information from the public and disregard promulgated legal procedures such as a fair hearings

    It must truthfully be a very corrupt world indeed if NZ is perceived as being the least corrupt- perhaps it would be wise to remove those blinkers- Bit hard to get a conviction against a member of a group whose members openly have quite a significant control over the judiciary-

    Perhaps there is very little Honour in allowing perceptions to be based upon controlled or manipulated data or indeed allow such perceptions to manipulate opinions?

  12. James F. Zeze 28 October 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    Your recent publication on Liberia’s CPI showing her to be in the 11th position is yet to be proven. What were the yard stick or standard used to measure. You also said that President serleaf is taking a strong measure on corruption. What are the findings on the so many corrupt officials who were removed form their posts and some that are still working in her government for corruption. These corruptions were discovered and exposed by the very GAC they are acusing of being unprofessional in her auditing reports.
    Look, President Sirleaf needs to clean up all the corruption charges on her former appointees in her government and stop giving excuse that until the court finds them guilty, they are free. Why did she removed them from their post in the first place.
    The main issue I want to raise is if president Sirleaf can allow GAC to audit the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislative branchs of government during her first administration, then maybe I can say yes, your measure is a reality or close to reality. Corruption is right in those quarters of the three branches of government. But they are only pointing at government ministries, Public Cooperations, The County Development funds and other agencies of government for corruptions and audits. What about the three most senior branches of government… the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature.
    GAC wants to complete audit on the three branches of government but some one has to give the approval. Who should give the approval? President Sirleaf. If she does, then I am positively sure that she means business to fight corruption. Until than, don’t boost her moral on that front, because GAC audit reports are there showing so many millions of dollars mis-applied or unaccounted for. Why it is true that she has made lots of positive developments that is worth mentioning, but corruption is still a major force she is faced with at this time.
    Therefore, I hope your recent CPI report on Liberia is not just another boost to promote her re-election to office. Because I can tell you that president sirleaf has failed on corruption in her government and passed in most of the other subjects on social, sound economic policies and infrastructure developments. Until we can have zero tolerance on corruption in Liberia, we need a president who can ecforce that. She must give way if she cannot.

  13. ngih thomas 2 November 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    I don’t think I have seen your blog before so had to drop by and take a look when I spotted your Face book stat

  14. Jonathan Hole 9 December 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    I challenge the value of Indexes such as these, they tend to get thrown around as an excuse for not having to be accountable in the west – “how dare you say our government is corrupt, the CPI says we are not” or the “at least we are not” syndrome, “sure our police have been responsible for the largest mass detention in Canadian history, but at least we are no Iran”

    Like the gentleman from the US, the UK and Australia, the perception here in Canada amongst many is very much the same, that although we do not pay bribes to police officers or gov’t officials, there is indeed a 2-tier system based on financial power, lobbying and donations – just look at the ex Canadian prime minister who avoided prosecution for taking bribes from a German business man, the health care scandal in Ontario, the Rail scandal in BC, the jury scandal, RCMP scandals, the list goes on. NONE were resolved and no individual has ever been held accountable or received punishment. Corruption rules absolute in Canada, it is just obfuscated by rhetoric from those involved, hidden by spurious polar arguments, and brushed under the carpet by those in power. Indeed the legal system often is the worst offender – a high priced lawyer will help as will party donations and being friends with government officials….. Challenge it and you are harassed and alienated from due legal process by the sheer cost of representation, not so different to Russia???

  15. ZhaoHonghao 12 December 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    I think China is very very corrupt and it has the least human right and liberty!As Chinese I am very disappointed of my country!

  16. Melonie Brommer 1 February 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  17. Amarjeet 6 February 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Most of the corporate organization in India indulge in corruption, unfair labor practice, human rights violation,environmental degradation and so on. To hide their unethical activities they become member to various world renowned bodies such as UN Global Compact, Transparency International and so on.Please kick out these organization from your affiliation to protect the innocent people, it is much merciful to the people you want to do is not encourage the corporate as your member.

  18. Johan 10 March 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    The poll shows clearly how many people are naive, unaware, unconscious or simply belong to one of the power elites of their country. –

    I’m glad that the majority knows that their country’s elites are extremely corrupt. Most people still don’t understand the mechanisms of power that have been perfected for thousands of years. –

    TI has a great future. 99.9999999999 % of the work still needs to be accomplished. –

    Let’s start with a first step towards real democracy, i.e., the people’s rule. If the people would really rule, their rights and freedoms would no longer be abused.

  19. paul 20 March 2011 at 4:03 am #

    au cameroun, la corruption se trouve dans tous les secteurs d’activites.elle comence meme dans la formation professionnelle des jeunes cadre de l’administration.ENAM ici les places sont achetes a au moins 1 million par qui achete? les ministre, le president de l’assemble, le parti au pouvoir.exemple l’anne passe gava yegue, president de l’assemblee nationale a cheté 4 places.pour reussir a un concours il faut acheter.pareillment a l’INjs ou bindounpwat meme sans etre de ce coté fait entrer sa famille et amis au prix de 500mille frans
    le cameroun est le pays le plus corompu au monde

  20. paul 20 March 2011 at 4:05 am #

    cher membre de transparency faites une enquete dans l’organisation des concours d’etat au cameroun.
    quelle corruption, vous arrivez a l’oral ;le jury a l’enam(ecole national de magistrature)formant les cadres vous demande de l’argent pour reussir

  21. Argentino 8 April 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Top 10 World’s Most Corrupt Countries:
    1- EEUU
    2- Israel
    3- Vatican City
    4- Italy
    5- Switzerland
    6- UK
    7- France
    8- Finland
    9- Argentina
    10- Somalia

  22. Tue Anh Pham Thi 27 April 2011 at 3:06 am #

    Corruption is the shameful of not only in one country but all over the world. However, we have high level one and low level one. It is said that corruption can be fight and beat. But the result depend on the commitment to join the anti-corruption programs of government.

  23. Richard 5 June 2011 at 3:27 am #

    The Corruptions Perceptions Index is bogus. It is based entirely on surveys that ask people to guess whether they think a country is corrupt or not, and essentially when most people guess whether a country is corrupt imagine the population of the public service in that country and estimate corruption based on the skin colour of those in government. This is because many people have prejudice against non-white people and think they are less honest, more corrupt, etc. In reality, everyone is corrupt, to an equal degree. GFC exposed plainly the pull that bankers have on American politics.

  24. pavan kumar jadhav 20 June 2011 at 8:41 am #

    my country india has a historic nexus between politicians ,bureaucrats,corporates and land mafias who are collectively squeezing wealth of my country in form of black money .and now they are trying their level best to stop lokpal bill(citizens ombudsman bill) from proceeding further . god save my country

  25. 马鑫 21 July 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I have seen many people’s words,but I’m the first Chinese who wants to say something here
    Then,I will use my mother tongue.

    中国的腐败问题相当严重,权力和金钱相挂钩的现象已经延续了几千年,这个问题已经扭成一个死结,我们国家尽管号称共产主义,但是腐败问题比欧美国家严重的多,上面的印度人说上帝拯救我的国家(god save my country)但我们自救的双手才是最重要的。

    I hope that more Chinese characters can appear
    on this page.

  26. Robin Gitte 1 September 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    UK politicians are bought and bullied by big business, media barons and the City.

  27. sunsonxia 3 November 2011 at 9:52 am #

    i just can not believe in this subject,how are we on the end of the list,i meaning,it just so unbelievable。。。we are the worst in the world,except the Russia,can anybody tell me why????

  28. sunsonxia 3 November 2011 at 10:02 am #

    maybe i’m the second Chinese here,say something in Chinese:是是非非太多,透过这个窗口看到了太多不想看的事,但是他就是发生了,希望我们能改变她,改变我的祖国,we saw too much,hope god bless our country!

  29. Thanks for the great writeup. Them in truth was obviously a fun consideration the idea. Glimpse complicated for you to a lot introduced pleasant by you! Incidentally, the best way might most people convey?

  30. Filblog 19 November 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    As with Val Kerrison (13/03/2010) our family has suffered the persecution of my sister and myself after daring to complain of maladministration by senior public servants within a State Government Agency in Australia. Theft of a private medical record and misreporting occurred in an attempt to sustain a baseless opinion of ‘psychologically unfit.’ Information which was known to the ajudicator to be inaccurate and potentially misleading was not declared as such. Both the agency and the ajudicator have now been abolished, but continuing vigilance is required to ensure whistleblowers and their families do not have their lives destroyed for being honest.


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