What Do Corruption Indices Measure?

23 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2014

See all articles by Dilyan Donchev

Dilyan Donchev

Institute for Quantitative Social Science; World Bank Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Economics

Gergely Ujhelyi

University of Houston - Department of Economics; Institute for Corruption Studies

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Date Written: July 2014


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, or employment status, and firm‐level characteristics such as the number of competitors are also found to influence corruption perceptions holding experience constant.

Suggested Citation

Donchev, Dilyan Donchev and Ujhelyi, Gergely, What Do Corruption Indices Measure? (July 2014). Economics & Politics, Vol. 26, Issue 2, pp. 309-331, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2458211 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecpo.12037

Dilyan Donchev Donchev (Contact Author)

Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.fas.harvard.edu/~donchev

World Bank Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Economics ( email )

2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Gergely Ujhelyi

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

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