The Impact of Corruption: Perspectives from Millennial Voices

A collaborative effort led by the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with support from Transparency International, the Accountability Lab, and the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT 2015).


Corruption is a key impediment to development, competitiveness and stability in both emerging and developed economies. The UN’s MY World 2014 survey also identified transparency and corruption as a top priority for people under the age of 34.

To further explore the view of this demographic (specifically "millennials" – those aged 18-34) on this topic, a survey was distributed to millennial networks of each organization involved in this project.

The survey suggests that the two issues regarded as most important by those millennials in the survey are the impact corruption will have on growth and what other impacts it will have on the future, including voting and the public sector as a career choice.

As the generation that will live with the consequences of today’s corruption the longest, it is important that its voice is heard, and its concerns acted on.

With this initial group of respondents, this survey provides a starting point to understanding the full scope of this generation’s perspectives on this issue. It is our hope it encourages more millennials to engage in the subject of corruption, helps them understand the scale of the problem, and encourages them to play a role in helping create an environment where it cannot flourish.

Survey Results

1. Corruption is… (choose all that apply)

When asked to describe the impact of corruption, the vast majority of those we surveyed believe corruption is holding their country back, and depriving their generation of opportunity.

Corruption is holding my country back

Corruption is causing lost opportunities for my generation

Corruption is a necessary part of functioning in society

Corruption is jeopardizing the job, family or physical security of me or someone I know

2. In your country, do you think corruption is a problem in the following sectors? (choose all that apply)

The judicial system and law enforcement are ranked the top two sectors of concern among our respondents – highlighting a trust deficit in governance and public institutions.

3. In your country, do you think corruption is a problem in the following scenarios? (choose all that apply)

Corruption across a variety of scenarios received equal—and high—billings from nearly all respondents, from voting and police forces, to legal procedures and career growth, showing the issue is seen as permeating throughout key societal functions.

Elections and voting

Obtaining legal documents and permits

Workplace advancement

Avoiding problems with the police

None of the above

4. Would you be more likely to consider a career in the public service in your home country if there was less corruption in the public sector?

The public sector stands to lose in recruiting this group of young talent to its ranks. Nearly two-thirds of our respondents indicated they would be more likely to consider a career in public service if corruption was less widespread.

5. To what extent do you feel you and your friends have the tools you need to fight corruption in your community?

There is a sense of lost hope among this group, with less than half of our respondents feeling they have the tools to fight corruption.

6. To what extent do you think the international community should pay more attention to the effects of corruption and to its prevention and control?

More than two-thirds of respondents agree that the international community should pay a great deal more attention to the effects of corruption and to its prevention and control.

Results by Region

Use the interactive map below to explore the responses to our survey by region.

As this survey was distributed to specific millennial networks, each with a different regional presence, it is important to distinguish that results do not translate to a country-by-country index, with proportional response rates in each. Rather, response distributions reflect geographies where surveyed networks are most active and results for some regions might be disproportionally influenced by the responses of specific countries. The detailed results with country breakdown are available here.

The Power of Millennials in Combating Corruption

Click the images below to read more from some of the leading voices in the fight against corruption, and find out why they think millennials are key to addressing this issue.

Learn More, Get Involved.

Watch these videos to learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against corruption.


The survey, developed in collaboration with APCO Worldwide, was conducted between 18 September 2014 and 22 October 2014. It was distributed to millennial networks of each organization involved in this project, via their social networks, email mailing lists and websites. The respondents were selected based on age (18-34) and full and accurate completion of the survey questions. In total, 1,089 people from 102 countries participated in the survey. The data set was then edited to exclude respondents outside the age bracket, those whose country of residence or age could not be determined, or those who had an entry error in other survey questions. In total, 814 valid responses were retained for inclusion in the analysis.

The sample statistics and the results with country breakdown are available here.