What Do Corruption Indices Measure?
45 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2008 Last revised: 18 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 13, 2009
Evidence from the International Crime Victimization Survey and the World Business Environment Survey suggests that actual corruption experience is a weak predictor of reported corruption perception, and that some of the factors commonly found to “reduce” corruption, such as economic development, democratic institutions or Protestant traditions, systematically bias corruption perception indices downward from corruption experience. In addition, perception indices are influenced by absolute (as opposed to relative) levels of corruption, which tends to penalize large countries, and they exhibit diminishing sensitivity to both absolute and relative corruption, indicating that they may better capture differences among countries with low levels of corruption than among highly corrupt ones. Individual characteristics, such as education, age, income, and employment status are also found to influence corruption perceptions holding experience constant.
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