Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Tina Søreide
Chapter 15: Does Respondent Reticence Affect the Results of Corruption Surveys? Evidence from the World Bank Enterprise Survey for Nigeria
Bianca Clausen, Aart Kraay and Peter Murrell1 1. Introduction Arbitron, the radio ratings company, recently switched from surveys to ‘Portable People Meters’, an electronic device that directly records the listening habits of their large sample of listeners.2 The move from selfreports to electronic recording resulted in a 10.7 percent drop in the estimate of the market share of classical music. Men proved to be listening to soft-rock much more than they had previously reported. Evidently when self-image is involved, survey respondents are less than candid in their responses and candor differs across groups. This anecdote alone should sensitize researchers to the problems arising when surveying value-laden activities such as corruption. At the very least, if the proportion of candid respondents varies across groups, comparisons of responses to corruption questions across groups can be misleading. Cross-country comparisons will be similarly affected. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the prevalence and consequences of such problems by using the responses from the World Bank-sponsored Nigeria Enterprise Survey. This survey was fielded in two waves in 2008 and 2009, covering a total of 5,422 firms. The survey posed questions on a wide range of aspects of business operations, such as financing, organization of production, economic performance, reactions to regulation, and obstacles to current operations. A significant number of questions focused on corruption, but these questions were by no means dominant in the survey. It seems unlikely that any respondent would have concluded that this was a corruption survey, per se. The...
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