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President Barack Obama reacts as he speaks during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington Oct. 7, 2013.  (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) President Barack Obama reacts as he speaks during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington Oct. 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)  

This study exposes the level of corruption in the US government

If you thought America’s government was corrupt, a new report suggests you may be on to something.

Transparency International published its annual Corruption Perception Index, which measures the levels of public sector corruption in 177 of the world’s territories and countries. America did not fare too well.

The United States failed to place even in the top ten cleanest countries, barely cracking the top twenty. According to the 2013 CPI report, America is the world’s 19th least corrupt country. The US held the same spot in 2012.

Apart from New Zealand, the five cleanest were all Northern European. These included, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Singapore, which is an Asian country, was also ranked as one of the least corrupt countries.

Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Sudan were found to be the world’s most corrupt countries. The vast majority of the countries with the highest percentage of public sector corruption were located in the Middle East or in the continent of Africa.

To measure a country’s public sector level of corruption, the CPI looks at the amount of money laundering, bribery, voter fraud, abuse of power, and any other factors that contribute to corruption. Analysts then add up a country’s score, which can range from 100 — least corrupt — to zero — most corrupt.

It derives its information from a variety of sources, including World Bank and World Economic Forum assessments, the African Development Bank’s governance ratings, and Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Survey.

EU and Western European countries had an average score of 66, while Sub-Saharan African countries showed the highest perceived levels of public sector corruption, averaging a score of 33. The United States scored 73.

Although Spain is a member of the EU, recent political scandals caused it have the largest total decline, dropping six points from its 2012 score. Among other incidents, the king’s son-in-law was charged this year with embezzling millions in public funds.

Overall, the 2013 study concluded that more than two-thirds of the 177 nations surveyed scored under 50, indicating that there is widespread government corruption throughout the globe.

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