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Corruption and social values: do postmaterialists justify bribery?

  • Maria Kravtsova

    ()

    (National Research University Higher School of Economics,)

  • Aleksey Oshchepkov

    ()

    (National Research University Higher School of Economics,)

  • Christian Welzel

    ()

    (Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University)

Using World Values Survey data from dozens of countries around the world, this article analyzes the relationship between postmaterialist values and attitudes towards bribery in a multi-level framework. This is an inherently interesting and under-researched topic because the various propensities attributed to postmaterialism lead to conflicting expectations about how these values affect attitudes towards bribery. On one hand, the alleged tendency of postmaterialists towards impartiality should lead them to condemn bribery. On the other hand, condemning bribery is a social desirability issue and postmaterialists are known to be less susceptible to desirability pressures and more relaxed about norm deviations. From this point of view, postmaterialists might be more tolerant toward bribery. Reflecting these conflicting expectations, we obtain an ambivalent result, evident in an inverted U-shaped relationship: as we move from pure materialism to mixed positions, people tend to justify bribery more, but then moving from mixed positions to pure postmaterialism, people become again more dismissive of bribery. What is more, the demographic prevalence of postmaterialists in a country moderates these values’ effect on bribery: where postmaterialists are more prevalent, the disapproving effect on bribery outweighs the approving effect. This finding contributes to a better understanding of the pronounced negative correlation between corruption and postmaterialism at the country level and has some important implications.

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Paper provided by National Research University Higher School of Economics in its series HSE Working papers with number WP BRP 34/SOC/2014.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in WP BRP Series: Sociology / SOC, January 2013, pages 1-36
Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:34/soc/2014
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  1. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Khalid Sekkat, 2005. "Does corruption grease or sand the wheels of growth?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7364, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Benno Torgler & Neven T. Valev, 2004. "Corruption and Age," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-24, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
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  4. Bryan W Husted, 1999. "Wealth, Culture, and Corruption," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 30(2), pages 339-359, June.
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  6. Anand V. Swamy & Stephen Knack & Young Lee & Omar Azfar, 2000. "Gender and Corruption," Department of Economics Working Papers 2000-10, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  7. Bin Dong & Uwe Dulleck & Benno Torgler, 2009. "Conditional Corruption," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 241, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  8. Lorenzo Pellegrini & Reyer Gerlagh, 2008. "Causes of corruption: a survey of cross-country analyses and extended results," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 245-263, July.
  9. Naci Mocan, 2008. "What Determines Corruption? International Evidence From Microdata," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(4), pages 493-510, October.
  10. Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Eight Questions about Corruption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 19-42, Summer.
  11. Paldam, Martin, 2002. "The cross-country pattern of corruption: economics, culture and the seesaw dynamics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 215-240, June.
  12. Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
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