Business Insights

Corruption: What is happening around the World?

While corruption takes vastly different forms from country to country, this year’s scores reveal that all regions of the globe are at a standstill when it comes to fighting public sector corruption.

At the top of the CPI, countries in Western Europe and the European Union continue to wrestle with transparency and accountability in their response to COVID-19, threatening the region’s clean image. In parts of Asia Pacific, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, increasing restrictions on accountability measures and basic civil freedoms allow corruption to go unchecked. Even historically high-performing countries are showing signs of decline.


In the Middle East and North Africa, the interests of a powerful few continue to dominate the political and private sphere, and the limitations placed on civil and political freedoms are blocking any significant progress. In Sub-Saharan Africa, armed conflict, violent transitions of power and increasing terrorist threats combined with poor enforcement of anti-corruption commitments rob citizens of their basic rights and services.

CPI 2021 for Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Democratic hopes in the shadow of growing authoritarianism

In the second lowest performing region on the CPI, many political leaders have used COVID-19 as a smokescreen to introduce restrictions on rights and accountability, or have severely cracked down on the freedoms needed to call out corruption.

CPI 2021 for Middle East & North Africa: Systemic corruption endangers democracy and human rights

The region is struggling to achieve tangible results against corruption – no country has registered a significant improvement on the CPI in the last decade. Private interests continue to overtake the common good amid systemic political misconduct, facilitating further corruption and abuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPI 2021 for the Americas: A region in crisis

With no progress on an average score of 43 out of 100 for the third consecutive year, the countries of the Americas are paralyzed in the fight against corruption. Despite extensive anti-corruption laws and commitments, corruption in the region continues to weaken democracy and human rights, while even high performers are showing signs of trouble.

CPI 2021 for Sub-Saharan Africa: Amid democratic turbulence, deep-seated corruption exacerbates threats to freedoms

2021 was a turbulent year for Sub-Saharan Africa. On a continent where corruption plunders precious natural resources and impedes access to public services for millions of people, the results of a decade of stagnation cannot be more devastating.

CPI 2021 for Western Europe & European Union: Trouble ahead for stagnating region

Western Europe and the EU still tops the CPI, but the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened transparency and accountability across the region, leaving no country unscathed and exposing worrying signs of backsliding among even the region’s best performers.

CPI 2021 for Asia Pacific: Grand corruption and lack of freedoms holding back progress

Asia has witnessed 10 years of mass movements calling for action against corruption, but much of this public outrage has been co-opted by populist leaders and autocrats. Meanwhile, in parts of the Pacific, government wrongdoing is concealed from citizens and it is dangerous to speak up.

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