Bribery involves individuals exchanging material benefits for a service of a public institution. To understand the process of bribery we need to integrate measures of individual behaviour and institutional attributes rather than rely exclusively on surveys of individual perceptions and experience or macro-level corruption indexes of national institutions. This paper integrates institutional and behavioural measures to show that where you live and who you are have independent influence on whether a person pays a bribe. The analysis of 76 nationwide Global Corruption Barometer surveys from six continents provides a date set in which both institutional and individual differences vary greatly. Multi-level multivariate logit analysis is used to test hypotheses about the influence of institutional context and individual contact with public services, socio-economic inequalities and roles, and conflicting behavioural and ethical norms. It finds that path-determined histories of early bureaucratization or colonialism have a major impact after controlling for individual differences. At the individual level, people who frequently make use of public services and perceive government as corrupt are more likely to pay bribes, while socio-economic inequality has no significant influence. While institutional history cannot be changed, changing the design of public services is something that contemporary governors could do to reduce the vulnerability of their citizens to bribery.
- Public services