In its latest survey, IPOS analyzed public understandings of the nature and quantity of corruption in Iran, as well as the Iranian people's assessments of institutions affected by corruption and anti-corruption efforts.

According to this survey, banks are viewed as having the highest levels of corruption among 14 other kinds of institutions. Seventy-seven percent of Iranians believe that banks are corrupted either a great deal, a lot, or somewhat. Moreover, a considerable majority of Iranians (71%) say the corruption has become definitive in the country. In addition, ninety-six percent of Iranians are of the opinion that appropriate or harsh punishment more than any other measure would have a mitigating effect, tending to decrease corruption.

Full results are available here

Institutions Judged to be Corrupt

People’s evaluations of corruption rates in various institutions show that people generally deem banks to be the most corrupt (77%) among 14 other institutions assessed in this survey. After banks, in descending order, come municipalities (63%), the judiciary system (63%), and police (55%).

On the other side, environmental organizations are esteemed as the least corrupt institutions. Only 22% of respondents believe that such bodies are corrupted a great deal, a lot, or somewhat. After environment organizations, the Bonyad-e- Mostazafin and the Revolutionary Guards are judged the least corrupted, at 24% and 30% respectively.

Institutions Affected by Corruption in Varying Degrees (%) A Great Deal A Lot Somewhat A Little Very Little, Not at All I Don’t Know
Banks 27 30 20 9 6 8
Local Governing Councils 24 26 13 18 6 13
Courts & Justice Department 26 24 13 16 11 10
Police 13 21 20 19 18 9
Org. for Registration & Properties 15 24 15 15 10 21
Health System & Hospitals 11 19 21 27 18 4
Local Governing Councils 13 23 14 17 12 21
Traffic Police 12 19 17 26 18 8
Universities 8 18 20 22 14 18
Komiteh-e Emdad 9 11 12 24 25 19
Educational System & Schools 4 10 16 33 29 8
Revolutionary Guard 9 10 11 20 26 24
Bonyad-e Mostazafan 5 7 11 23 21 33
Department of Environment 4 8 11 30 24 23

Pervasive Corruption in Iran

A considerable majority of Iranians (71%) believe that corruption has become definitive in the country. Only 15% think that corruption has not become epidemic.

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Analysis of responses based on demographic variables demonstrates that city dwellers are in a meaningful way more likely to believe in the pervasiveness of corruption (84%); those in rural areas are conversely less likely to believe that it’s epidemic (78%).

Moreover, respondents who express that they keep up with news regarding corruption either a lot or a great deal are more likely to believe that corruption is pervasive (89%) than those who say that they either don’t at all follow corruption-related news, or follow it only a little (those who either reported that they had no opinion and were not informed or registered otherwise vague responses were set aside).

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Assessment of Corruption: Corruption Trends (Past vs. Future)

Pessimistic respondents outnumbered optimists by nearly four to one. Sixty-eight percent of Iranians are convinced that corruption has increased in the last five years, and around 17% think that it has decreased.

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When the question of the likelihood of corruption decreasing in the coming five years is posed, the gap between optimists and pessimists narrows to 33% and 35% respectively.

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Older generations are more optimistic about the future than younger generations

Individuals below 45 years of age and those 45 and above differently evaluate future rates of corruption. The younger cohort tends to pessimism, believing that corruption will worsen in the next five years, whereas those greater than 45 years of age are more optimistic, believing that the rate of corruption will improve (those who either reported that they had no opinion and were not informed or registered otherwise vague responses were set aside).

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Future Corruption Trends by News Source

A meaningful relationship has been established between media channels used for pursuing information regarding corruption and respondents’ appraisal of corruption trends for the next five years. Thus respondents who obtain such news through the internet, satellite networks, and word of mouth believe that the corruption situation will get worse in the coming five years.

Those who follow news on Iranian state media and users of print media are convinced that the corruption situation will either improve or at least not change in the coming five years (those who either reported that they had no opinion and were not informed or have otherwise vague responses are set aside).

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Influence of Nuclear Agreement on Attention to Anti-Corruption Efforts

In light of nuclear agreement between Iran and the West, 54% of Iranians believe that officials will pay greater attention to combatting corruption.

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Factors Mitigation Corruption

In order to understand people’s assessments of the role of mitigating corruption, eight different possible measures were posed to respondents. They were then asked to express the level of their agreement with whether or not each measure would have a corruption-mitigating role.

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Noting the findings among those who responded to these questions, it will be observed that respondents believe that appropriate or harsh punishments (96%) more than any other component would have a mitigating effect, tending to decrease corruption. Ethics and the enforcement of regulations assume respective positions behind punishment.

Contrarily, respondents believe that state non-intervention would not tend to curtail corruption (at 32% agreement and 68% disagreement.) State financial decentralization (meaning not concentrating all income into the state’s pockets) and media surveillance occupy the following ranks.

Rate of Corruption

Respondents were asked to score the level of corruption in society on a scale of 1 to 100. Average appraisals of corruption in the country come in at 60 (mean). The median score is also 60, meaning that half of the respondents give a score more than 60 for the level of corruption in the country and the other half give scores less than 60. The mode (most frequent number) is 50.

According to the table below, almost 30% of the respondents gave scores between 75 and 100 for the level of corruption. Just 10 gave a score less than 25.

Corruption Score (Ordinal) %
1 to 25 9.6
26 to 50 37
51 to 75 24.6
76 to 100 28.8
Central Tendency
Mean 60
Median 60
Mode 50

Comparing Rate of Corruption to Other Countries

On a scale of 1 to 150, respondents were asked to rank Iran in terms of corruption among the world’s 150 other countries. According to the average appraisal, Iran ranked the 80th most corrupt country of 150. The median score is 75, meaning that half of the respondents gave a rank of more than 75 and the other half gave a rank of less than 75. The mode (most frequent number) is 100. Fourteen percent of respondents ranked Iran as the 100th most corrupt country in the world.

In the most recent report of the International Transparency Organization (2014,) Iran was given a score equivalent to 27 (on a scale of 100) with regard to corruption. It was also ranked 136th in the world.

Comparative Corruption Rank (vis-à-vis Other Countries) %
1 to 10 13
11 to 50 21
51 to 100 36
101 to 140 17
141 to 150 13
Central Tendency
Mean 80
Median 75
Mode 100

A Majority of Iranians Do Not Follow Corruption-Related News

Generally speaking, Iranians do not follow news regarding corruption (68% of respondents said that they either don’t at all follow corruption-related news, or follow it little). Only 14% say that they follow such news “a lot.” This result is consonant with the findings of other IPOS polls which have, in the past, gauged general trends in Iranian’s keeping up with news and current affairs.

Degree of Following Corruption News %
A Great Deal 4
A Lot 10
Somewhat 18
Little 14
Very Little 16
Never at All 38

Iran’s National Radio & TV is the Primary Source for Corruption News

Among people who follow corruption-related news, Iran’s National Radio & TV (state media) is the primary source for corruption news (35%.) Informal word-of-mouth networks come in afterwards at 27%, the internet at 19%, print journalism at 12%, and satellite networks at 6%.

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Survey Methods:

  • Results are based on telephone interviews (cellphone and landline) conducted on September 26, 2015 to October 08, 2015, with a random sample of 1548 Iranian adults aged 18 and older who are currently residing in Iran.

  • The iPOS proportional two-stage sample includes respondents from every province. Provinces have been categorized into three groups based on their human development index (HDI).

  • Based on the sample, it can be stated with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is between ± 2.49 and ± 3.47 percentage points, depending on the number of respondents for each question

  • Native Farsi speakers conducted the interviews during daylight hours in Iran. Interviewers were trained prior to conducting the poll.

  • Rates of respondent candor and reliability were appraised by experienced interviewers. 48 persons found to be lacking in these areas were removed from the sample.

  • Nine demographic variables including gender, age, province of residence, location (urban or rural), education, language, ethnicity, religion, and residential situation have been considered in this poll. Results are weighted by gender, age and location (urban vs. rural areas) based on the Iranian national census of 2011.

  • Aside from demographic variables, two ground variables (communication variables) were used to gauge respondents’ level of awareness concerning the matter of corruption:

    • The first: to what extent did they keep up with news pertaining to official and economic corruption (i.e. embezzlement, favoritism, and the like?)
    • The second: What media channels did they use to acquire such information?