There is very little systematic information on the level or spread of corruption in socialist Cuba. This is not surprising, since corruption is extremely difficult to measure. Corruption is illegal everywhere, and therefore, participants in corrupt activities have an incentive to conceal their actions. In this sense, measuring corruption presents challenges similar to measuring unobserved economic activities that are illegal or verge on illegality, such as the informal, second, underground, or shadow economies.
A complicating factor is what is meant by “level” of corruption. Does it mean more frequent instances of corrupt behavior? Or corrupt behavior that affects larger amounts of goods or money? Or corrupt behavior that has the largest corrosive impact on the public trust or on the effectiveness of government? And in measuring the level of corruption, does it matter whether corrupt behavior is generalized and many participate in it or it is tightly controlled by an elite? Finally, are all acts of corruption—from “grease” payments to expedite administrative action to patronage abuses and to grand theft of government resources—all the same and therefore should be weighted equally when measuring the overall level of corruption, or are they different and should weights commensurate with their relative importance be used in arriving at an overall level of corruption (Johnston and Kpundeh 2002, 34)?
Several methods have been proposed in the literature to assess the extent or spread of corruption in a society: measuring the general or target-group perception concerning corruption; directly or indirectly measuring the incidence of corruption activities; using expert estimates about the level of corruption; and associating corruption with the absence of good governance or of economic freedom and inferring corruption level from these proxies (Hungarian Gallup Institute 1999; Johnston and Kpundeh 2002).