Perceptions of Corruption in Emerging Economies

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.

Considerable research attention has focused on the meaning and interpretation of corruption, citizens' actual experience with corruption, individuallevel determinants of perceptual corruption, and powerful predictors of the perception of corruption. The aim of the present study is to examine and evaluate the linkage between perceptions of civic corruption and the experience of street-level corruption, the discrepancy between corruption experiences and perceptions, the individual-level relationship between corruption perceptions and experience, and the problematic nature of corruption.

JEL Classification: D73,O11, 016

Keywords: perceptual corruption, experience, development, transparency, economy

1. Introduction

There have been few comprehensive assessments of what research has learned about the formation of corruption, perceptions in developing and developed countries, higher economic development as a predictor of lower perceived corruption, and the perception of corruption at the micro level. In this paper I am particularly interested in exploring the complexity of studying corruption, the gap between perception of corruption and actual exposure to it, the extent of biases in corruption perceptions, and feedback mechanisms between transparency and corruption levels. This study is grounded in the considerable body of scholarship examining individual reports of the experience of corruption, the illicit nature of corruption, the beliefe that affect individuals' perceptions of corruption, and the causes of perceived corruption. We are specifically interested in how previous research investigated the impact of corruption on development, the corruption-growth relationship, and perceptionand experience-based measures of corruption. The theory that I shall seek to elaborate here puts considerable emphasis on factors that shape perceived corruption, the nature of the relationship between the parties who participate in corrupt acts, and the consequences of perceived corruption.

2. The Experience of Corruption

Mishler and Rose estimate a series of measurement models systematically linking individual-level perceptions of different types of corruption with their reported experiences: there are discrepancies in the number of individuals who perceive that corruption in their country and those who report having experienced corruption personally, the experience of corruption is less likely to influence perceptions of corruption than perceptions are to bias the recall of corruption experiences, and corruption perceptions are heavily influenced by media reports (both individual experiences and perceptions of corruption can serve as reasonable if imperfect measures of corruption). The experience of corruption is a good indicator for understanding corruption and addressing the problems it raises for deepening democracy. The experience of street-level bribery significantly influences perceptions of street-level corruption (the experience of bribe paying significantly effects individuals' perceptions of corruption).

In addition, the data examined here suggest that most citizens believe virtually all public institutions are substantially corrupt. Mishler and Rose think that corruption depends on the opportunity structure in society and on the willingness of individuals to pursue the opportunities that are available, having a normative or moral dimension that varies across both individuals and societies. Perceptions of political corruption have little effect on the experience of street-level corruption. Individuals' social and economic characteristics have predictable effects on both the perception and experience of corruption. Individual experiences and perceptions of corruption are related at both the aggregate and individual levels.1

Olken states that corruption is often high in low-income countries, and is costly (the efficiency costs of corruption can be quite severe). Anti-corruption policies can be enriched by an understanding of the role of incentives and market forces in influencing corrupt behavior. …