What Second Equal means for New Zealand

New Zealand is ranked second equal with Finland in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index. Denmark is now clearly at the top of the ranking with New Zealand’s score dropping one point to 87 while Denmark improved by 2 points, scoring 90. This is only the third time since 2006 where New Zealand has not ranked first or first equal in the annual index.

Countries with strong institutions and well-functioning democracies such as New Zealand cluster at the top of the Index.

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 is available on the Transparency international website.

About the CPI and Public Sector Corruption

The Corruption Perceptions Index is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. The index scores 180 countries and territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by country experts and business executives.

It is a composite index, a combination of 13 data sources from 12 independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis. Not all sources research and report on every country.  New Zealand is covered in 8 of the 13 which is typical of top performing first world countries.

This year’s index reveals that most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in more than a decade.

What affects New Zealand’s score?

New Zealand’s score is affected by a gradual decline in its score on three of the eight component indexes that contribute to its ranking. These three indexes all survey business leaders – international and domestic - about their experience with public service corruption.

Of the three component indexes affecting the divergence of New Zealand and Denmark, two are surveys of international and domestic business leaders about their experience with public service corruption and one is an expert country analysis. They are 

  •   World Economic Forum, Executive Opinion Survey (Business)
  •   IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (Business)
  •   PRS International Country Risk Guide (Expert analysis)

Denmark’s rise can be attributed in large part to its recovery  from previous dips in their score on the same three component indexes where New Zealand is gradually trending down.

IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 

The IMD World Competitiveness is one of the more volatile of indexes. Both NZ and Denmark have bounced around with Denmark consistently ranked ahead of NZ. This year the spread went from 2 (93 vs 91) to 9 (96 vs 87).

World Economic Forum, Executive Opinion Survey

Denmark experienced a dip in ranking from the World Economic Forum EOS  between 2016 to 2021 and rebounded from 78 in 2021 to 84 in 2022. New Zealand is unchanged from last year, but trending down overall with this index.

PRS International Country Risk Guide

Denmark has also recovered from a dip (2016 to 2019) in the PRS International Country Risk Guide ranking where they now score 100 compared to New Zealand’s 93. NZ’s 93 is unchanged since dropping from 98 in the 2017 CPI.

CPI performance of New Zealand’s top export partners

China, 18% of exports, is unchanged from last year with a score 45 and rank of 65. The level of corruption in New Zealand’s top trading partner remains troublesome. There has been some small movement in the NZ-China Fair Trade Act re-signed in 2022 - the inclusion of transparency elements particularly around government procurement and anti-competitive business practice in commercial activities and consumer protection - but these largely relate to competition not integrity as such. 

Stronger measures such as criminalising bribery and the inclusion of UNCAC anti-corruption measures would be evidence of our efforts to maintain our anti-corruption stance in dealings with China. 

Australia, 17% of total exports, reversed its downward trend and rose two points from 73 to 75 and five ranks from 18 to 13.  This may be turning the corner off the back of the landmark National Anti-Corruption Commission decision.

“However, Australia’s reputation is only likely to be fully restored once the world sees the commission actually perform, and other issues central to our credibility in the region are seriously addressed beyond simply the public sector,” says Transparency International Australia Board member and whistleblowing expert, Professor A J Brown.

The United States, 12% of NZs total exports, has improved by three ranking points, recovering partly from its ten year slump. Score 69, Rank 24th

Japan, 6% of exports, has remained the same with score 73, rank 18.

The United Kingdom’s score (3% of exports) has suffered a huge drop, with five points and seven ranking positions. This reflects sizeable slumps in most of the contributing indexes to the CPI, with causes ranging from COVID-related fraud to damning reviews of police force corruption.

South Korea (3%)  has marginally increased its score and improved its rank, reflecting a steady rise over the past 5-10 years.  South Korea –  Score 63, Rank 31.  This could be related to the establishment in 2021 of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials).


In the Pacific countries covered by the CPI, the perception of corruption persists without significant progress in curtailing it. For more analysis and comments see Annual corruption report reveals fourth year of stagnation in the Pacific

Global CPI results

A world urgently in need of action

The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that most countries are failing to stop corruption.

The global average remains unchanged for over a decade at just 43 out of 100. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, while 26 countries have fallen to their lowest scores yet. Despite concerted efforts and hard-won gains by some, 155 countries have made no significant progress against corruption or have declined since 2012.

Global peace has been deteriorating for 15 years. Corruption has been both a key cause and result of this.

Corruption undermines government's ability to protect people and erodes public trust, provoking more harder to control security threats. On the other hand, conflict creates opportunities for corruption and subverts government's efforts to stop it.

Even countries with high CPI scores play a role in the threats that corruption poses to global security. For decades, they have welcomed dirty money from abroad, allowing kleptocrats to increase their wealth, power and destructive geopolitical ambitions.

“Leaders can fight corruption and promote peace all at once. Governments must open up space to include the public in decision-making – from activists and business owners to marginalised communities and young people. In democratic societies, the people can raise their voices to help root out corruption and demand a safer world for us all.”

Daniel Eriksson, Chief Executive Officer Transparency International

Globally we have also witnessed a new wave of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the continuing climate crisis and rising tensions between many major powers. The natural timing lag between data gathering and survey publication means that many of the responses were gathered in the midst of the pandemic

In the past 5 years, only eight countries have significantly improved their scores and 10 countries have dropped significantly including high ranking countries such as Austria, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. The remaining 90% have had stagnant corruption levels.

Trouble at the Top

Not only does the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index indicate stagnation globally, advanced economies are still not pulling their weight in the fight against cross-border corruption.

According to the report:

“As a measure of public sector corruption at the national level, the CPI does not capture the extent to which countries facilitate cross-border corruption – be it allowing stolen funds to be laundered through their economies or giving a free pass to companies that bribe foreign officials. This is precisely where these high-scoring countries’ biggest weaknesses lie.”

Read more about CPI 2022 Trouble at the Top.

Source Surveys

All source surveys/assessments include questions that measure perception of public sector corruption, or certain aspects of public sector corruption. Several indexes are specific to a geographic region such as Africa or developing countries. Here are the component surveys with those that include New Zealand are bolded:

  • African Development Bank CPA
  • Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Index
  • Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index
  • Economist Intelligence Unit Country Ratings
  • Freedom House Nations In Transition Ratings
  • Global Insight Country Risk Ratings
  • IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook
  • PERC Asia Risk Guide
  • PRS International Country Risk Guide
  • Varieties of Democracy Project
  • World Bank CPIA
  • World Economic Forum EOS
  • World Justice Project Rule of Law Index

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 is available on the Transparency international website.

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