IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wbk/wbrwps/4413.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter : understanding corruption using cross-national firm-level surveys

Author

Listed:
  • Jensen, Nathan M.
  • Li, Quan
  • Rahman, Aminur

Abstract

Since the early 1990s, a large number of studies have been undertaken to understand the causes and consequences of corruption. Many of these studies have employed firm-level survey data from various countries. While insightful, these analyses based on firm-level surveys have largely ignored two important potential problems: nonresponse and false response by the firms. Treating firms'responses on a sensitive issue like corruption at their face value could produce incorrect inferences and erroneous policy recommendations. We argue that the data generation of nonresponse and false response is a function of the political environment in which the firms operate. In a politically repressive environment, firms use nonresponse and false response as self-protection mechanisms. Corruption is understated as a result. We test our arguments using the World Bank enterprise survey data of more than 44,000 firms in 72 countries for the period 2000-2005 and find that firms in countries with less press freedom are more likely to provide nonresponse or false response on the issue of corruption. Therefore, ignoring this systematic bias in firms'responses could result in underestimation of the severity of corruption in politically repressive countries. More important, this bias is a rich and underutilized source of information on the political constraints faced by the firms. Nonresponse and false response, like unheard melodies, could be more informative than the heard melodies in the available truthful responses in firm surveys.

Suggested Citation

  • Jensen, Nathan M. & Li, Quan & Rahman, Aminur, 2007. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter : understanding corruption using cross-national firm-level surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4413, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4413
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2007/11/28/000158349_20071128092030/Rendered/PDF/wps4413.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Recanatini, Francesca & Wallsten, Scott J. & Lixin Colin Xu, 2000. "Surveying surveys and questioning questions - learning from World Bank experience," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2307, The World Bank.
    2. Jakob Svensson, 2003. "Who Must Pay Bribes and How Much? Evidence from a Cross Section of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 207-230.
    3. Regina Riphahn & Oliver Serfling, 2005. "Item non-response on income and wealth questions," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 521-538, September.
    4. Roberta Gatti, 2004. "Explaining corruption: are open countries less corrupt?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(6), pages 851-861.
    5. Tomz, Michael & Wittenberg, Jason & King, Gary, 2003. "Clarify: Software for Interpreting and Presenting Statistical Results," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 8(i01).
    6. Escribano, Alvaro & Guasch, J. Luis, 2005. "Assessing the impact of the investment climate on productivity using firm-level data : methodology and the cases of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3621, The World Bank.
    7. Ray Fisman & Roberta Gatti, 2006. "Bargaining for Bribes: The Role of Institutions," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
    9. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
    10. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:74:y:1980:i:01:p:78-91_16 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2006. "Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets," NBER Working Papers 12312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Cheryl W. Gray & Daniel Kaufman, 1998. "Corruption and Development," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11545, The World Bank.
    14. Holmes, Thomas J & Schmitz, James A, Jr, 1996. "Nonresponse Bias and Business Turnover Rates: The Case of the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(2), pages 231-241, April.
    15. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Clarke George R, 2011. "Are Managers' Perceptions of Constraints to Growth Reliable? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in South Africa," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-28, August.
    2. Athanasouli, Daphne & Goujard, Antoine, 2015. "Corruption and management practices: Firm level evidence," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 1014-1034.
    3. Alexeev, Michael & Song, Yunah, 2013. "Corruption and product market competition: An empirical investigation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 154-166.
    4. Clarke, George R.G., 2011. "How Petty is Petty Corruption? Evidence from Firm Surveys in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 1122-1132, July.
    5. World Bank, 2011. "Republic of Tajikistan - Country Economic Memorandum : Tajikistan’s Quest for Growth: Stimulating Private Investment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2761, The World Bank.
    6. Jelena Budak & Edo Rajh, 2012. "Corruption Survey in Croatia: Survey Confidentiality and Trust in Institutions," Working Papers 1201, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Sector Corruption&Anticorruption Measures; Microfinance; Access to Finance; Poverty Monitoring&Analysis; Social Accountability;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4413. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/dvewbus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.