Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and co-researchers develop in-depth corruption index

For Corruption Risk Forecast, the Professor of Democracy Studies uses 30 fact-based corruption indicators to measure status of corruption, transparency and rule of law.

Corruption indexes are a popular way to measure the state of the world. However, the data are usually based on subjective perceptions rather than statistical indicators. To fill the gap, Professor of Democracy Studies Alina Mungiu-Pippidi led a 25-member research team at the Hertie School’s European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS) to develop the Corruption Risk Forecast (CRF), a methodology tracing change over years using 30 fact-based corruption indicators – including freedom of the press and judicial independence – to determine the state of corruption and the rule of law in 120 countries over 12 years.

"Until now, it has been difficult to understand whether states govern well,” says Mungiu-Pippidi. “This is because, methodologically, many corruption indexes follow the logic of Russian matryoshka dolls: The underlying data are compiled from different indexes and these data in turn come from different sources. So the collection procedures are quite opaque." According to the anti-corruption expert, the new Corruption Risk Forecast eliminates statistical noise. "Our data takes a look at the individual determinants of corruption (enablers and disablers) in more than 120 countries over the last 12 years. They are comparable and allow us to deduce from trends how corruption will develop in single countries in the near future," Mungiu-Pippidi adds.

The new methodology could be particularly useful for governments and anti-corruption experts as it also shows clearly the government will – what most indexes miss – and society’s response. According to the ERCAS research team, it could for the first time reliably show how effective a government's anti-corruption policy actually is. The forecast currently shows, for example, that corruption risk is bound to decrease in countries such as Vietnam, Spain, Estonia, Liberia and Costa Rica Countries where corruption risk is going up in the near future are Cambodia, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela and Zambia.

Following a 2020 pilot project, the Corruption Risk Forecast aims for the highest possible reliability by considering 30 corruption indicators each year, including many directly observable ones, like digital open databases on public spending, procurement contracts or property, the number of internet connections and the level of press freedom. The index is published annually by an independent research team from the European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building (ERCAS) at the Hertie School. Unlike leading corruption indices such as the Corruption Perception Index (Transparency International) or the Governance Indicators (World Bank), often criticized for looking back (for instance, Greece’s corruption indicators were very good before the 2008 economic crisis and experts downgraded it afterwards, when in fact governments fought against earlier corruption), the Corruption Risk Forecast uses fact-based indicators and an innovative methodology not only to show improvements or deteriorations in the level of corruption in states across years, but also to forecast the near future. All data can be found at


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