Generalizations about African societies being pervasively corrupt are refuted in this innovative paper. Among 25,397 Afrobarometer respondents in 18 countries, 26% report paying a bribe, while 74% do not. Five hypotheses offer explanations: institutional context, inequalities of socio-economic resources, social inclusion and exclusion, social and political capital, and conflicting norms. Multilevel statistical analysis identifies as most important: contextual differences in colonial legacies, ethnic politicization, service provision, press freedom, and having social or political capital. The analysis emphasizes studying behavior rather than perceptions of corruption and supports a public-policy focus on bribery as an exchange for specific public services.
Welcome to the Afrobarometer publications section. For short, topical analyses, try our briefing papers (for survey rounds 1-5) and dispatches (starting with Round 6). For longer, more technical analyses of policy issues, check our policy papers. Our working papers are full-length analytical pieces developed for publication in academic journals or books. You can also search the entire publications database by keyword(s), language, country, and/or author.