Corruption Perceptions Index

Corruption Perceptions Index

Overview
Since 1995, Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

 (TI) publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 as "the misuse of public power for private benefit." , the CPI ranks 178 countries "on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt)."

Transparency International commissioned Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau
University of Passau
The University of Passau is a public research university located in Passau, Lower Bavaria, Germany. Founded in 1978, it is the youngest university in Bavaria and has therefore the most modern campus in the state...

 to produce the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
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Encyclopedia
Since 1995, Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

 (TI) publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 as "the misuse of public power for private benefit." , the CPI ranks 178 countries "on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt)."

Methods


Transparency International commissioned Johann Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau
University of Passau
The University of Passau is a public research university located in Passau, Lower Bavaria, Germany. Founded in 1978, it is the youngest university in Bavaria and has therefore the most modern campus in the state...

 to produce the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The 2010 CPI draws on 13 different surveys and assessments from 10 independent institutions. The institutions are the African Development Bank
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

, the Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

, the Bertelsmann Foundation
Bertelsmann Foundation
The Bertelsmann Foundation is the largest private operating non-profit foundation in Germany, created in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. The Bertelsmann Foundation holds 77.4 percent of Bertelsmann AG....

, the Economist Intelligence Unit
Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is part of the Economist Group.It is a research and advisory company providing country, industry and management analysis worldwide and incorporates the former Business International Corporation, a U.S. company acquired by the parent organization in 1986...

, Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

, Global Insight
Global Insight
Global Insight is the world's largest economics organization, serving over 3,800 clients in industry, finance and government worldwide, with revenues of over $95 million and employing more than 600 economists and other staff in 23 offices in 13 countries...

, International Institute for Management Development
International Institute for Management Development
IMD - International Institute for Management Development is a non profit business school located in Lausanne, Switzerland.- History & Mission :...

, Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, the World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

, and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. The 13 surveys/assessments are either business people opinion surveys or performance assessments from a group of analysts. Early CPIs used public opinion surveys. Countries must be assessed by at least three sources to appear in the CPI.

The CPI measures perception of corruption due to the difficulty of measuring absolute levels of corruption.

Validity


The CPI's validity is supported by strong significant correlation with two other measures of corruption.

Limitations


Since the set of sources changes, comparing corruption over time with the CPI is inappropriate.

Criticism


The Corruption Perceptions Index has drawn increasing criticism in the decade since its launch, leading to calls for the index to be abandoned. This criticism has been directed at the quality of the Index itself, and the lack of actionable insights created from a simple country ranking.
Because corruption is willfully hidden, it is impossible to measure directly; instead proxies for corruption are used. The CPI uses an eclectic mix of third-party surveys to sample public perceptions of corruption through a variety of questions, ranging from "Do you trust the government?" to "Is corruption a big problem in your country?"

The use of third-party survey data is a source of criticism. The data can vary widely in methodology and completeness from country to country. The methodology of the Index itself changes from year to year, thus making even basic better-or-worse comparisons difficult. Media outlets, meanwhile, frequently use the raw numbers as a yardstick for government performance, without clarifying what the numbers mean.

The lack of standardization and precision in these surveys is cause for concern. The authors of the CPI argue that averaging enough survey data will solve this; others argue that aggregating imprecise data only masks these flaws without addressing them. In one case, a local Transparency International chapter disowned the index results after a change in methodology caused a country's scores to increase—media reported it as an "improvement". Other critics point out that definitional problems with the term "corruption" makes the tool problematic for social science.

Due to the sources used the index produces a view of corruption as mainly viewed by (Western) business elites. In comparison, the questions in the Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 surveys 64.3 (2005), 68.2 (2007), 72.2 (2009), and the Flash Eurobarometer 236 (2008) established by the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 for all of the 27 European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 members states ask the perceptions and experiences of the general public. In general,the results show a very large divergence between the perception of living in a corrupt country by the general public and the experiences of corruption in everyday life.

Aside from precision issues, a more fundamental critique is aimed at the uses of the Index. Critics are quick to concede that the CPI has been instrumental in creating awareness and stimulating debate about corruption. However, as a source of quantitative data in a field hungry for international datasets, the CPI can take on a life of its own, appearing in cross-country and year-to-year comparisons that the CPI authors themselves admit are not justified by their methodology. The authors state in 2008: "Year-to-year changes in a country's score can either result from a changed perception of a country's performance or from a change in the CPI’s sample and methodology. The only reliable way to compare a country’s score over time is to go back to individual survey sources, each of which can reflect a change in assessment."

The CPI produces a single score per country, which as noted above, cannot be compared year-to-year. As such, the Index is nearly useless as a tool for evaluating the impact of new policies. In the late 2000s, the field has moved towards unpackable, action-oriented indices (such as those by the International Budget Partnership or Global Integrity
Global Integrity
Global Integrity is an independent, nonprofit organization tracking governance and corruption trends around the world using local teams of researchers and journalists to monitor openness and accountability...

), which typically measure public policies that relate to corruption, rather than try to assess "corruption" as a whole via proxy measures like perceptions. These alternative measures use original (often locally collected) data and so have the same non-comparability problem as the CPI and are limited in scope to specific policy practices (such as public access to parliamentary budget documents) and so they are only an indicator of visible corruption/policy corruption.

The inherent value-ladeness of any definition of what represents a corrupt policy is also a concern for the CPI or any other measure corruption. For example, any measure must weight the extent to which corruption has a negative impact on citizens of that country. Measures can focus on the extent to which corruption negatively impacts citizens' lives on many dimensions including quality of life, health, economic well-being and liberty. Therefore, current measures have also been criticized not just for their methodology but for their breadth and the value choices that are required to be made in deciding how to weight the importance of various aspects of corruption.

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