According to the Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer, Estonian residents are most likely to consider business executives (24%) to be corrupt, followed by members of parliament (17%) and bankers (17%). Slightly less than half of the respondents (46%) think the government is run by a few big interests votes.
Compared to the situation five years ago, the dishonest behaviour of business executives has increased by leaps and bounds in the eyes of society – in 2016, only 7% of the respondents thought that most or all of them were corrupt.
“This perception has probably been influenced by various cases that have come to the attention of the public, including money laundering cases, which also show the attitude towards bankers. In order to improve attitudes, the Estonian business sector must strive to implement its anti-corruption measures as well as promote business ethics in general” explained Carina Paju, the CEO of TI Estonia
“Looking at the results, it is a matter of concern that, according to the survey, the youth are the most tolerant of corrupt behaviour compared to the older people if it leads to effective governance and good results,” Paju commented.
It is young people who, compared to the older age groups, perceive more corruption. For example, 15-29-year-olds think that as many as 35% of business executives and 21.9% of members of parliament are corrupt. Only local government elected representatives and bankers are considered more corrupt by older age groups than by young people.
“At the same time, young people are also the most pessimistic about the fact that the government listens to the voice of youth. We see a peculiar dissonance here, where, compared to other age groups, it is more common to find that those in power are corrupt but nothing can be done to improve the situation. In any case, it is necessary to raise awareness of corruption among young people as well as to show its negative consequences – and this should already be done in schools,” CEO of the association emphasized.
However, in society at large, it can be seen that people are less likely to pay bribes and use personal connections to access public services.
“Although people’s perceptions of how corrupt one or another area is may depend more on the stories that have appeared in public, we can see that people’s personal exposure to corruption has declined over the past five years. According to the 2016 Corruption Barometer, 5%, i.e. every twentieth had paid a bribe to access a public service. The percentage is now only two, being one of the lowest in the EU. The use of e-services certainly contributes to this, as a result of which direct contact for public services has decreased. However, as a negative trend, it can be seen that most bribes were paid and personal connections were used to access health care services” Paju noted.
The Global Corruption Barometer is a survey carried out by Transparency International that measures the opinions and attitudes of the population. The survey was conducted in Estonia and elsewhere in the European Union in the autumn of 2020. See the results of the EU here.