Corruption, Culture, and Communism

Sandholtz, W. & Taagepera, R.
Cultural factors, as measured by the two dimensions of values identified by Inglehart, explain 75% of the variation in the Perceived Corruption Index across non-communist countries. A strong "survival" orientation contributes twice as much as a strong "traditional" orientation to higher levels of corruption. When controlling for these cultural variables, communism and post-communism increase the levels of corruption even further, both directly and by contributing to heavier emphasis on survival values. Communism created structural incentives for engaging in corrupt behaviors, which became such a widespread fact of life that they became rooted in the culture in these societies - that is the social norms and practices prevailing in communist societies. The transitions toward democracy and market economies have not yet erased this culture of corruption. In addition, the process of privatization itself has opened myriad opportunities for corruption. The effects are manifest in comparisons of corruption in non-communist and (post-)communist countries in five cultural zones.

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