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Shruti J. Shah
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The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index

It is that time of the year again. Transparency International released its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) today.  The CPI, which is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide, measures the perceptions of public sector corruption. It uses data from international surveys that look at factors such as accountability of national and local governments, effective enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to government information, and abuse of government ethics and conflict of interest rules.

The 2013 CPI ranks and scores a total of 177 countries and territories. More than two thirds (69%) of the countries ranked in the 2013 Index score below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) which suggests that corruption is still perceived to be entrenched in the public sector in most countries.

In 2012 Transparency International updated the methodology used to construct the CPI to allow for the comparison of country scores from year to year. 2013 is therefore the first year in which comparisons with the previous year’s country scores can be made.

In this year’s CPI, Denmark and New Zealand are at the top of the list with scores of 91 each. Similar to last year, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia are at the bottom of the list scoring just 8 points each. Among the emerging economies, Brazil ranks 72 with a score of 42 and China ranks 80 with a score of 40. India and Russia rank 94 and 127 with scores of 36 and 28, respectively. The Arab spring countries continue to score poorly, with Yemen, Syria, and Libya declining in 2013 with scores of 18, 17, and 15 respectively, underscoring the need for comprehensive reform in those countries.

As in 2012, the United States ranks 19th, with a score of 73. This score is lower than many other OECD countries including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The United States is also fourth in the Americas region, ranking below Canada, Barbados, and Uruguay. The reasons that we suggested for the U.S. ranking last year, namely lack of transparency in the campaign finance system, and corruption and lack of transparency in state and local institutions, continue to persist. To improve its ranking the U.S. will need to be more introspective and focus on issues related to domestic corruption at all levels of the government.

The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index is available here.


Shruti Shah is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. She’s a Senior Policy Director at Transparency International-USA, responsible for the promotion of TI-USA’s anti-corruption law and regulation policy agenda. She can be contacted here.

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