60% say corruption is intensifying in America

December 16, 2017

A majority of adults nationwide believe that the America’s civility and honesty has deteriorated under the oversight of the Trump administration: Nearly 60% of respondents to a survey conducted by Transparency International (TI) during October and November said that the level of corruption nationwide has intensified over the past 12 months—up from about 33%, who said the same in January 2016.

TI’s U.S. Corruption Barometer 2017 found that “the U.S. government and some key institutions of power still have a long way to go to win back citizens’ trust,” the global organization said. Specifically, the results show:

  • 44% believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36% in 2016;
  • Nearly 70% think that the government is failing to fight corruption, up from half in 2016;
  • Close to 33% of African-Americans see the police as highly corrupt, compared to 20% across the survey overall.
  • 55% gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31% in 2016; and
  • 74% said that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

The survey asked about the degree of corruption in nine influential groups: the national government (the office of the POTUS, members of congress, government officials), public officials who work at the service level (tax officials, the police, judges, local officials), and those who are not part of government but who often wield strong influence (business executives, religious leaders).

Among these categories, government institutions and officials in Washington are perceived by poll respondents to be the most corrupt in the country, the researchers said.

Additionally, many people hold an unfavorable view of big business. Almost 33% of respondents think that “most or all business executives are corrupt.”

In comparison, judges are seen to be the cleanest, with just 16% citing them as highly corrupt.

However, despite the level of corruption they perceive, many respondents said they now feel empowered to make a difference. When asked what actions would be most effective at fighting corruption, using the ballot box came out top. Twenty-eight percent said that voting for a clean candidate or a party committed to fighting corruption is the most effective thing they could do. However, this figure has declined from 34 % who said the same in 2016.

In addition, there has been a slight increase in the number of people saying that some form of direct action away from the ballot box would be most effective – speaking out on social media, joining a protest march, joining an anti-corruption organization, signing a petition, talking to friends or relatives, or boycotting a business. Collectively, 25% of people in the United States now think these are the most effective things they can do, up from 17% in 2016.

A further 21% said that reporting corruption was the most effective solution.

Efficience3 conducted the poll  among 1,005 respondents over age 18

Research contact: rhodess@transparency.org

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