(Dubravka Petric/PIXSELL) (Dubravka Petric/PIXSELL)

More than 40 percent of those surveyed believe there is more corruption today than in years past. Confidence in public institutions is low or very low among more than 70 percent of participants in the survey, which was presented on Monday at a conference on corruption awareness organized by Deloitte Croatia and hosted by the Croatian Employers Association.

Students were also asked why corruption occurs and what can be done to curb it.

"There were some very interesting responses and what can be extrapolated from them is that we not only have to change the way we punish corruption, but the attitudes toward corruption in our society. We have to start with ourselves and with the people around us,” said Domagoj Bačić, a senior studying economics in Zagreb who presented the results of the study.

One third of students said they or members of their family had come into direct contact with corruption, meaning they were asked for a bribe or other kind of quid pro quo when seeking a service from an institution, said Vedrana Kašić Jelušić, a Deloitte financial advisory services partner.

Legal insecurity is a major issue in Croatia, says the head of the Croatian Employers Association, Davor Majetić.

"The gray economy is still very big in Croatia. If we calculate that it accounts for 10% to 15% of our economy, that's 40 to 50 billion kuna annually. If we were to collect just the VAT on that amount, it would be 10 billion kuna more in revenue for the budget that could go towards better public sector salaries and lowering taxes," Majetić said.

The conference concluded that modernizing procurement procedures, fostering better cooperation with state auditors and prosecutors, more effective policing, and more efficient courts are tools that can combat corruption.