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Working paper

WP102: Corruption and trust in political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa

Emmanuelle Lavallée, Mireille Razafindrakoto and Francois Roubaud 1 Oct 2008 Benin, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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This paper analyzes the impact of corruption on the extent of trust in political institutions using a rich collection of comparable data provided by the Afrobarometer surveys conducted in 18 sub-Saharan African countries. More specifically, we set out to test the “efficient grease” hypothesis that corruption can strengthen citizens’ trust since bribe paying and clientelism open the door to otherwise scarce and inaccessible services and subsidies, and that this increases institutional trust. Our findings reject this theoretical argument. We show that corruption never produces trust-enhancing effects regardless of the evaluation of public service quality. The results reveal how perceived and experienced corruption impact negatively, but differently, on citizens’ trust in political institutions. The adverse effect of perceived corruption decreases with the fall in public service quality. On the contrary, the negative effect of experienced corruption decreases as public service quality increases.

Emmanuelle Lavallée

Emmanuelle Lavallée is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Paris Dauphine and associated researcher at Développement Institution

Mireille Razafindrakoto

Mireille Razafindrakoto is a researcher at Developpement Institutions and Analyses de Long Term (Dial) in Paris, France.

Francois Roubaud

Francois Roubaud is a researcher at Developpement Institutions and Analyses de Long Term (Dial) in Paris, France.