Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Dependence on corruption
Corrupt people
Defence against corruption
Institutionalized corruption
Systemic corruption

Corruption is a debasement or subversion of integrity or purity and may occur in ideology or personal morality, culture, commerce, civil service (including police) or in politics. It constitutes a barrier to progress, and promotes conflict as a result of frustration and alienation; instability as a result of apathy; violence and crime. It may lead to social, ethnic, political, national and ideological disintegration and possibly revolution.

Corruption feeds on itself. People involved in petty corruption become increasingly involved in more and larger amounts. Corruption has many victims. Public corruption offenses affect all citizens directly and personally, particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. Building inspectors paid small amounts of money to approve shoddy work results in dangerous construction, substandard electrical wiring, and inferior building materials, usually in the poorest areas of town. Judges and lawyers who line their pockets result in criminals set free to victimize citizens. Taxpayers pay for corruption. When officials are bribed to award construction contracts the cost of the bribe goes into the cost of the construction often with interest. In a corrupt system, good people avoid public service. Honest contractors refuse to bid on government contracts; honest lawyers refuse to become prosecutors or judges; honest citizens avoid participating in politics either as voters or candidates.

Corruption has been highly detrimental for development. It introduces an element of irrationality in all planning and plan implementation by distorting the actual course of development plans. A common method of exploiting a position of public responsibility for private gain is the threat of obstruction and delay; hence corruption impedes the processes of decision-making and execution at all levels. It increases the need for controls to check the dishonest official. Thus it tends to make administration cumbersome and slow, and prohibits rational delegation of authority. Corruption and the widespread knowledge of corruption counteract the strivings for national consolidation and in particular, decrease respect for and allegiance to the government.

In its most evident form, corruption affects dealings of the public with government bureaucracy and political hierarchies whereby money or favour is given in exchange for a benefit from the official. This extends to dealings between business enterprises and the bureaucracy and politicians. But corruption may also affect any transactions, notably with or between businesses, even where no governmental or political body is involved. In its simplest form corruption consists mainly of bribery and tipping. Generally bribes are negotiated payments made before a transaction, whereas tips, reflecting gratitude are paid afterwards based on the evaluation of the donor with regard to short-term and long-term interest in the relationship.


Since 1995, Transparency International has been the leading global civil society organization to fight against corruption. Every year it publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index, which has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption.  By ranking 180 countries and territories (from most to least) corrupt it provides a relatively holistic understanding of what global corruption looks like. It has been historically thought that developing countries have fallen victim to corruption more than so-called developed countries, however these days it is pervasive throughout almost all governments and societies. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index,

“More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of only 43. Since 2012, only 20 countries have significantly improved their scores, including Estonia and Côte D’Ivoire, and 16 have significantly declined, including, Australia, Chile and Malta. Denmark and New Zealand top the Index with 88 and 87 points, respectively. Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are at the bottom of the index, with 10, 13 and 13 points, respectively. The highest scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union, with an average score of 66, while the lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 35).
This reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world. While there are exceptions, the data shows that despite some progress, most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.” (


Using corruption
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
B: Basic universal problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST