Skip to content
Working paper

WP148: Why do some Africans pay bribes while other Africans don’t?

15 Apr 2015

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.