Doing the Survey Two-Step: The Effects of Reticence on Estimates of Corruption in Two-Stage Survey Questions

43 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Nona Karalashvili

Nona Karalashvili

World Bank

Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 22, 2015

Abstract

This paper develops a structural approach for modeling how respondents answer survey questions and uses it to estimate the proportion of respondents who are reticent in answering corruption questions, as well as the extent to which reticent behavior biases down conventional estimates of corruption. The context is a common two-step survey question, first inquiring whether a government official visited a business, and then asking about bribery if a visit was acknowledged. Reticence is a concern for both steps, since denying a visit sidesteps the bribe question. This paper considers two alternative models of how reticence affects responses to two-step questions, with differing assumptions on how reticence affects the first question about visits. Maximum-likelihood estimates are obtained for seven countries using data on interactions with tax officials. Different models work best in different countries, but cross-country comparisons are still valid because both models use the same structural parameters. On average, 40 percent of corruption questions are answered reticently, with much variation across countries. A statistic reflecting how much standard measures underestimate the proportion of all respondents who had a bribe interaction is developed. The downward bias in standard measures is highly statistically significant in all countries, varying from 12 percent in Nigeria to 90 percent in Turkey. The source of bias varies widely across countries, between denying a visit and denying a bribe after admitting a visit.

Keywords: Public Sector Management and Reform, Economics and Institutions, Non Governmental Organizations

Suggested Citation

Karalashvili, Nona and Kraay, Aart and Murrell, Peter, Doing the Survey Two-Step: The Effects of Reticence on Estimates of Corruption in Two-Stage Survey Questions (May 22, 2015). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7276. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2609623

Nona Karalashvili (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-5756 (Phone)
202-522-3518 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/akraay

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

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