Over two thirds of Europeans think that corruption is widespread in their country, but there is much variation between countries
Respondents were asked how widespread they thought corruption was in their country. They were given a detailed definition of what was meant by corruption in the introduction to the question and were told that it was important to consider their answers based on their own experience.
Over two thirds (68%) think that corruption is widespread within their own country, with just over four in ten (42%) thinking it is ‘fairly widespread’ and just over a quarter (26%) saying it is ‘very widespread’. Among the quarter (25%) of respondents who do not think widespread corruption exists in their country, the majority (20%) think corruption is ‘fairly rare’ and only a very small minority (5%) believe it is ‘very rare’.
The proportion of respondents who believe that corruption is a widespread phenomenon in their country has decreased by 8 percentage points since the 2013 survey.
In all but five cases, a majority of respondents think that corruption is a widespread national problem, but there are significant differences in the size of this majority. The countries where most respondents agree that corruption is widespread are Greece (96%), Spain, Cyprus and Croatia (all three 94%), Lithuania (93%) and Portugal (92%). In Poland (58%), the United Kingdom (55%) and Germany (51%) still a majority of respondents think corruption is widespread.
Denmark (22%) and Finland (21%) stand out for the particularly low proportion of respondents who believe that corruption is widespread in their country, and less than half do in Sweden (37%), Luxembourg (40%) and the Netherlands (44%).
A number of EU Member States have a high proportion of respondents unable to express an opinion on this measure: in Estonia (13%), Bulgaria and the United Kingdom (both 12%), Poland (11%) and Luxembourg (10%) at least one in ten give this response.
Respondents in NMS13 countries are more likely than those in EU15 countries to think that corruption is widespread in their country (74% vs. 66%, respectively) and more likely to say that the problem is ‘very widespread’ (31% vs. 25%). However, these differences are less substantial than in the previous survey. Respondents in the euro area are more likely than those outside the euro area to say that the problem of corruption is widespread (71% vs. 62%), but not significantly more likely to describe it as very widespread (27% vs. 24%).
There are some differences in opinion that are visible in the socio-demographic analysis:
Those who left full-time education at the age of 15 or under (79%) are much more likely than those who finished their education aged 20 or over (60%) to think that corruption is a widespread phenomenon;
Those who struggle to pay their household bills most of the time (88%) and from time to time (77%) are significantly more likely to think that corruption is widespread than those who almost never struggle (63%);
Those who are unemployed (76%) or house persons (77%), are more likely to perceive corruption as widespread than managers (56%) and students (63%);
Unsurprisingly, those who have actually experienced or witnessed any case of corruption in the past 12 months (90% and 85%, respectively) are more likely to agree that corruption is widespread than those who have not (67%), and those who say that they are personally affected by corruption in their daily lives (88%) are more likely to see it as widespread than those who are not affected (62%);
Those who personally know someone who takes or has taken bribes (86%), are more likely to think that corruption is widespread in their country than those who do not (66%).
How widespread is corruption in different areas of society?
In your country, do you think that the giving and taking of bribes and the abuse of power for personal gain are widespread among tax authorities? (% of YES answers)
There are some socio-demographic differences:
There are some differences between age groups, but with respect to individual answers, rather than across the range of issues. The youngest respondents (15-24) are more likely than the oldest respondents (55+) to think that the police (35% vs. 27%), tax authorities (28% vs. 21%) and the courts and tribunals (26% vs. 21%) are prone to bribery and abusing power for personal gain. On the other hand, the oldest respondents are more likely than the younger ones to suspect this of officials awarding public tenders (44% vs. 31%) or building permits (42% vs. 35%);
Respondents who struggle to pay household bills most of the time are more likely to think that corruption is prevalent, particularly when compared with those who say they almost never struggle. This is particularly the case when it comes to police and customs: over half (52%) of those who struggle to pay household bills think that these institutions are susceptible to bribery and abuse of power, compared with just over a quarter (26%) of those who never have these problems;
The unemployed and self-employed tend to hold particularly negative views about this issue. The unemployed are the occupational group clearly most likely to think that corruption is widespread within the police or customs (46%), banks and financial institutions (43%), the courts and tribunals (34%), political parties (65%), and the education sector (22%);
The self-employed are the occupational group most likely to think corruption is widespread among officials awarding public tenders (50%). Like the unemployed, they are also more likely than average to perceive corruption to be widespread among officials issuing building permits (47%), politicians (59%), the healthcare system (36%) and inspectors (39%);
As might be expected, respondents who report exposure to corruption – through witnessing or experiencing cases of corruption, knowing someone who has taken bribes or being personally affected by corruption in their daily lives – are more likely than those with no such experiences to perceive corruption to be widespread.
Level of corruption in daily life
source: Eurobarometer 470