Perceived corruption leads to actual corruption

20 June 2017

According to a survey conducted in a Latin American country on behalf of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the perception of corruption leads to actual corruption.

The survey showed a ‘statistically significant’ increase in respondents’ willingness to bribe a police officer after they were told that corruption was on the rise in their country.

Respondents were 28% more likely to bribe a police officer than the control group, who were not given such information as part of the experiment.

This supports the notion that corruption is a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy,’ where an individual’s willingness to engage in a corrupt act depends on their perception of corruption in society.

While the experiment was not aimed at knocking Latin America, what it did do is show that the perception of increased corruption can spur individuals on to commit actual acts of corruption.

More information
IDB Working paper series
Corruption as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy