How to Determine Vulnerability to Grass-Roots Corruption

This four-page note outlines methodological considerations for researchers examining people's vulnerability to bribery. It discusses the benefits and limitations of using sample survey data to gauge vulnerability to grass-roots corruption, and explains the importance of a two-step approach that asks if people have had contact with the state as well as if they have paid a bribe.

While survey data may not be able to offer rich detail about when and how bribery occurs, it offers a generalizable picture of how often bribery is experienced and by whom. It is therefore the tool that should be used to draw inferences about who is most vulnerable to grass-roots corruption.

A two-step methodological approach distinguishes between people who have not paid a bribe because they have not had contact with the state (used state services), and people who did have contact yet did not pay a bribe. This approach illuminates how variables influence whether someone has contact with the state, and why some people are more vulnerable to grass-roots corruption than others. Understanding both is important for an effective policy response.

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