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Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 published

On January 25, 2022, Transparency International published the updated Corruption Perceptions Index (“CPI“) for 2021.


  • The CPI 2021 indicates a global stagnation in perceived corruption in the public sector. As in the previous year, two-thirds of the countries surveyed only achieved a score of less than half the achievable maximum score (100), indicating a critical corruption propensity level. The global average score of 43 points is also on a par with the preceding year.
  • Transparency International discusses the interplay of corrupt behavior, the Covid-19 pandemic, and human rights violations and sees their containment as essential in the fight against corruption.
  • As in previous years, Germany achieved a score of 80 points, but fell one place in the ranking from rank 9 to rank 10.
  • The USA, previously struggling with a steadily declining score since 2016, will score 67 points in 2021 after having lost 2 points in the previous year. However, the USA further slipped in the ranking by 2 places from rank 25 to a shared rank 27 with Chile.

Overview Corruption Perceptions Index 2021

The international anti-corruption organization Transparency International published the updated CPI for 2021 on January 25, 2022. This index summarizes the results of 13 surveys, expert assessments and investigations to measure perceived corruption in business, politics and administration in the public sector of 180 countries. It ranges from zero points (“very corrupt”) to 100 points (“very integrity”).


In contrast to the previous year, Transparency International identifies a global stagnation in perceived corruption in 2021. In the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, 131 of the 180 countries considered in the CPI 2021 show no change in rating compared to the previous year. Similarly, the 25 countries that achieved an improvement in the rating is almost equal to the number of the countries that received a lower rating compared to the previous year. Transparency International attributes the stagnation to the insignificant progress made by the countries under review in the fight against corruption. Furthermore, 27 of the 180 countries considered have reached historic lows in their ratings. Thus, more than two-thirds of the countries examined still achieve a score of less than 50 points, while only a few countries manage to make perceptible progress in the fight against corruption that is noticeable in the ranking. As in previous years, the global average is only 43 out of 100 points.

Corrupt behavior, Covid-19 and human rights violations

In its report on the CPI 2021, Transparency International argues that corruption encourages human rights violations and refers to the murder of human rights activists, the restriction placed on freedom of the press, and the use of the spyware Pegasus by state institutions. These examples clearly demonstrate not only that even in strong democracies the system of checks and balances can be overridden, but also that respect for human rights must encourage citizens to resist injustice.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed deficiencies in both, health systems as well as democratic institutions in many countries and underscored the need for these countries in particular to do more than ever to fight corruption. In the report for the CPI 2020, Transparency International already spoke of a crisis of democracy. In the report on the CPI 2021, Transparency International also focuses on the restriction of freedoms and the circumvention of control mechanisms. In this context, Transparency International makes four recommendations to fight corruption:

  1. Uphold the rights needed to hold power to account
  2. Restore and strengthen Institutional checks on power
  3. Combat transnational corruption
  4. Uphold the right to information in government spending

Development of the perception of corruption

Overall, the level of perceived corruption in the public sector is the least perceived as a problem in Europe, with an average score of 66 points. The situation is considered to be much worse in sub-Saharan Africa (33 points), the Middle East and North Africa (39 points), Eastern and Central Europe (36 points) and Asia (45 points), but also in the USA and Latin America, where the country average is only 43 points.

As in previous years, the frontrunners in the CPI 2021 are Denmark and New Zealand, but also Finland with 88 points each as well as Norway, Sweden and Singapore with 85 points each.

The tail end of the CPI 2021 ranking comprises South Sudan (11 points), Syria (13 points) and Somalia (13 points). Within this group, there were no changes compared to the previous year.

The sharpest drop compared with the previous year’s result was recorded by Belarus with a loss of 6 points and Botswana with a loss of 5 points. Surprisingly, Australia lost 4 points compared to the previous year, as did Kyrgyzstan, Cyprus and Argentina. The loss of points by Canada and Belgium continues to be conspicuous: While Canada lost 3 points from 77 to 74 points and slipped from 11th to 13th place, Belgium also dropped by 3 points from 76 to 73 points and slipped from 15th to 18th place.


On the other hand, developments in Malawi, North Macedonia, Sudan and the Seychelles are viewed positively. Malawi gained 5 points compared to the previous year and improved from 129th to 110th place, while North Macedonia improved by 4 points and rose from 111th to 87th place. Sudan also improved by 4 points, rising from 174th to 164th place in the ranking. Surprisingly, China improved by 3 points compared to the previous year, rising to 45 points or 66th place (78th place in the previous year).



In the CPI 2021 report, Transparency International does neither continue nor update its watchlist of 12 countries that show a potential for significant change in their corruption perceptions due to policy actions, societal change and challenges (triggered, for example, by the Covid-19 pandemic), or increasing natural disasters.

The CPI 2021 developed as follows for the countries on the watchlist last year:


Implications of the Corruption Perceptions Index for Businesses

The results of the updated CPI should also be taken into account in day-to-day business, as they provide important risk indicators for compliance risk analyses and risk-based business partner reviews, both of which are essential elements of an effective and efficient compliance management system. In particular, business relationships with countries whose scores or rankings have deteriorated conspicuously should be critically reviewed, as new or increased compliance risks may have developed as a result.

We would be happy to advise and support you in your compliance risk analysis or risk-based business partner reviews. For further information and contact to our experts, please click here.

To the website of Transparency International.