Several organizations – including the World Bank, Transparency International (TI), and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Foundation – have attempted to develop corruption indicators; all of them depend on aggregate surveys of citizens, businesses or experts and therefore base their results on perceptions of the problem as opposed to more objective data. … these measurement approaches have acknowledged reliability and validity problems … “Second generation” governance indicators currently under development may resolve some of the measurement and methodological issues. –Chetwynd, Chetwynd and Spector, “Corruption and Poverty: A Review of Current Literature.” Management Systems International, January 2003.
Media coverage of published corruption rankings may influence people’s perception of corruption in the country. Also, perceived corruption may “overweight” well-publicised corruption scandals compared to more colloquial cases of bribery (“headline bias”). This is true even if the respondents have significant personal exposure to corruption. For instance, in constructing their Bribe Payers’ Index, Transparency International asked business leaders what their main sources of information on corruption, unfair competition and anticorruption treaties were. “The press media” was the preferred response, chosen by 79% of respondents. “Personal experience” was only third at 59%. –Erlend Berg, “How Should Corruption be Measured?” London School of Economics, May 2001
“Only freedom will defeat corruption”
The logic employed is sophomoricallly tortured and all too familiar. It’s that standard Opinion Journal noise-achine editorial No. 1(b), based on the same old gambit that assumes that Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index is an actual “measure of corruption,” with all conclusions, based on fuzzy, meaningless numbers, proceeding from that premise.
Which is widely recognized as a bogus premise. Transparency International does not even make that claim. But then again, it does not write a lot of letters to the editor correcting this common assumption, either.
The same goes for the World Bank, whose survey along similar lines comes with a red herring warning you that these numbers are not meaningful enough for the World Bank to rely on them in its decision-making. Which makes you wonder why they spend money churning them out in the first place … unless they churn out supplementary numbers that allow you to check perception against realilty, that is. Gallup International has done some interesting studies in that regard, I have that here somewhere … I am collecting literature on the problem of defining, and measuring the actual incidence of, “corruption.”
The problem, argues Porfirio, is that government officials in poor countries tend to be more susceptible to bribery, as witnessed by a supposed correlation, he says, between the “poverty” of a nation and its position on the “corruption index.”
That, he tells us, is because poor countries tend to be “statist,” while rich countries tend to have open economies that do not burden the private sector with undue regulation.
The solution, therefore, is for poor countries to stop regulating the private sector.
No regulation, no regulators to bribe.