July 10, 2013 -- On Tuesday, Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International released its Global Corruption Barometer 2013, a worldwide survey of 114,000 people that analyzes bribery and corruption in 107 countries.
The report found that corruption and bribery are prevalent across both developed and underdeveloped nations: More than 50 percent of respondents in the world said corruption had worsened in recent years, and 27 percent admitted to paying bribes in order to access public services and institutions.
Few respondents see an easy way out of this growing problem. The majority of people don’t believe in their government’s capabilities to fight corruption. Nearly 88 percent think that their leaders are doing a poor job at it, and most blame public institutions as the main corruption sources.
Here are five of the world’s most corrupt institutions, according to the survey:
1) The Police
For years now, many people in rural areas of countries like Mexico and Venezuela have learned an important lesson: If you have a problem with the law, avoid the police, because you might end up with even more problems.
In Mexico, cartels pay municipal police $100 million every month, and more than 93 percent of drivers think traffic policemen are corrupt. (One solution to that problem: female police officers.) In Venezuela, the interior minister excoriated his entire force last month.
Those are some of the most extreme cases, but they reflect a general worldwide distrust of cops. Across the globe, police received 3.7 rating on a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 means ‘not at all corrupt’ and 5 means ‘extremely corrupt’.
Few forms of corruption can hurt a country more than judicial corruption. The rule of law tends to disappear when people don’t trust the justice system. If you don’t think a judge can help you, there is a greater chance you will take justice in your own hands or allow those who wronged you to escape with impunity.
There are 20 countries where people think the judiciary is the most corrupt institution. In these countries, 30 percent of the survey’s respondents admitted that they had a paid bribe in order to help their cases.
3) Public Officials and Civil Servants
Government employees in charge of land, registry, health, and education have a privileged position controlling access to certain grants or assistance. They can easily ask for bribes.
This sort of corruption has mostly affected countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia –- countries where agrarian and civil conflicts have divided the population and enabled governments to centralize power in big bureaucracies.
On average, public officials received a 3.6 for corruption on the 1-to-5 scale.
4) Political Parties
Citizens of Argentina, Greece, Colombia, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Vanuatu, Uruguay, and Jamaica share one belief: They think political parties are their country’s most corrupt institutions. In total, 51 countries around the world expressed contempt for political parties in the survey.
More than half of respondents think that their countries are run by big interests looking out for themselves “entirely” or to a “large extent.” It’s no surprise, then, that protesters in countries like Turkey, Egypt, Chile, Spain, and Brazil have used political corruption as a rallying cry.
In the U.S., 76 percent of respondents said that political parties were affected by corruption. In Greece, the number is currently at 90 percent.
5) The Citizenry
One of the largest problems when dealing with public corruption is the people themselves. According to the report, 27 percent of respondents said that they had paid a bribe in the past 12 months. As Transparency International and other NGOs have repeatedly stated, this ultimately sustains and encourages corruption.
The same goes for citizens' failures to report incidents of corruption. The study found that 21 percent of the people surveyed are not willing to report these incidents, and there are 16 countries where a majority of respondents would prefer to remain silent, for fear of reprisals and lack of faith in their governments.