Corruption and Democracy: A Cultural Assessment

Moreno, A.
Government transparency is an increasingly important topic in both stable and new democracies, and the task of measuring the level of corruption in public office, as the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), by Transparency International, is of great value. In addition, corruption is also part of culture and society, not just government, and measuring the extent to which ordinary citizens are willing to justify corrupt acts is a complementary effort to measuring perceptions of government corruption. It has been documented that corruption is negatively related to economic development and to the existence of democratic institutions. The question is whether both systemic and cultural modes of corruption are involved in such relationships. It is also feasible that corruption can play an important role in political competition. In Latin America, for example, opposition electoral campaigns have benefited from exposing corrupt incumbents. Nonetheless, Latin American publics are, on average, more permissive of certain corrupt practices than most publics from Western Europe and East Asia. Consequently, fighting corruption becomes one of the main tasks of newly democratic governments. The question is whether democratization is reducing corruption or not. More specifically, as democratic political attitudes become more widely shared, is corruption permissiveness decreasing?...

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