Perception vs. Experience: Explaining Differences in Corruption Measures Using Microdata
28 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 11, 2015
Understanding corruption is at the heart of treating the dysfunctionality of many countries’ public sectors. Yet, most corruption research suffers from one common problem: There is no “objective” measure of public-sector corruption for a cross-section of countries. Most studies on the determinants or the effects of corruption rely on indicators of corruption perception. In more recent years, a second type of indicator reflecting stated experiences with bribery has become available. If corruption perception is primarily informed by experience with corruption, these two types of indicators should be very highly correlated. In fact, they are not. This paper deals with the divergence between these two types of corruption indicators. We examine the variation in individual corruption perception that cannot be explained by individual corruption experiences alone. We find that both respondent characteristics and country characteristics can bias corruption perception. This may force us to reevaluate results of corruption research that makes use of perception indicators and anti-corruption policies that have been designed based on these results.
Keywords: Corruption, Corruption Experience, Corruption Measurement, Corruption Perception, Governance, Governance Indicators, Institutional Quality, Quality of Government, Subjective Indicators, Microdata Analysis
JEL Classification: D73, C8, K42, O17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation