Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Addendum to Corruption Post: How to Measure Corruption

In a comment to the addendum to the corruption post of earlier, a reader remarks:
I don't know how correct the international ranking index on this did they measure?
for example if the father of our president is awarded some public contracts by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality?is that corruption?definitely it is not ethical.Politicians would resign in the countries like usa or uk under the name of conflict of interests but in turkey that is seen normal,ordinary.
so, how these international index treat the situations like this? 
Quite legitimate question, which I need to answer briefly. There are two common methods to create such indices:
First, you can ask people their perception of corruption. This will be a subjective measure by default.  Transparency International does this.

Second, you might try ask objective questions to business owners and the public such as whether they had to pay money to in public offices to get their work done. The World Bank Investment Climate Assessment surveys ask such questions.

Although I have not checked the literature out for a while, Turkey comes out in the middle of the pack under both measures- and a simple graph of GDP versus corruption reveals that the country is more or less as corrupt as its level of development would have predicted (or vice versa; as you know, I am very skeptical on jumping to conclusions on causality).

Coming to the reader's point on ethics: I definitely agree with him that such conflicts of interest are not ethical. But normally, they would not be part of corruption indices- but it would be a good idea to do a survey and ask people what they think of such issues and come up with an ethics index. I should ask the folks at KONDA what they would think of this idea, and maybe we'll have such an index in a couple of months:)

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