How public perceives corruption? Case of Sweden

This paper from Jonas Linde & Gissur Ó Erlingsson is an absolute surprise.

Sweden is a country which is ranked tops in governance and corruption rankings, meaning relatively a clean country. Infact by some measures the cleanest country by some measures.

This paper says reality is different. There have been some recent cases of corruption in Sweden. THis has led to a larger % of people believing that Sweden is corrupt and public officials work for their own gains. Moreover, you need to know them to get your work done….

Related to this, it is important to note that although Sweden is recognised as one of the least corrupt countries in the world does, this does not imply that corruption and power of abuse are wholly absent (cf. Andersson et al 2010). In fact, throughout  the last two decades several corruption scandals have been exposed at all levels in government. Sweden has also recently been internationally criticised for the way it deals with its problems of corruption. For example, the European Council has expressed harsh critique against Sweden for lacking a formal regulation on political party financing (Sandgren 2009), and already in the early 2000s, Sweden was criticised by GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption, 2001) for lacking sufficient means to detect and prevent corruption. Additionally, recent surveys have showed that, for example, one out of six top officials in Swedish municipalities have experienced bribe-attempts (Dagens Samhälle 2010), and one out of three Swedish municipalities have experienced cases of corruption in 2010 (Sveriges Radio 2010).1 As Erlingsson et al (2009) argue, it may well be the case that corruption and power abuse has become an increasing problem throughout the past three decades.

This paper looks at 2 qs:

  • How public sees corruption in Sweden?
  • Whether this corruption impacts public views of democracy/political system?

So they conduct a survey of Swedes along with key Nordic economies and Denmark, all famous for low corruption. Interestingly, Swedes believe their country/public officials are more corrupt compared to citizens in other economies. The evidence is more consistent with Danes. It is ranked as a clean country and citizens also believe the same. Finland and Norway are between the two extremes.

They also find that this perceived corruption is correlated with people supporting the political system. People sho say corruption is rising are also the ones are not satisfied with democracy:

Figure 1 shows quite substantial differences in predicted probabilities for different perceptions of the extent of corruption among local level politicians and public officials. A person who strongly disagrees to the proposition that acts of corruption and abuse of power are common has a probability of .88 to also express satisfaction with the way the democratic system works. The corresponding figure for those who believe that corruption is widespread is .64, producing a difference of 24  percentage points between the two extreme positions. Thus, although general system support in Sweden is at high levels seen from a comparative perspective, it is strongly affected by public perceptions of corruption. Therefore – from a democratic perspective – it is troublesome that a large share of the Swedish public believe that the extent of corruption has increased during the last decades, and that it is likely that it continues to increase in the future.

This is eroding the values of general system support in Sweden.

Interesting bit. Sweden too. One of the footnotes in the paper says:

This new found interest in corruption and power abuse from Swedish media in 2010 was sparked by the exposure of a large scale corruption scandal in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg, where several top officials had tight connections with a construction company, and allegedly, had let themselves been bribed to treat the company favourably in the municipality’s purchasing processes.

Again real estate/construction! It is all over the place. No country can actually escape the wrath of a corrupt real estate industry. It is a necessary evil it seems.  

Anyways, I have always wanted to see such studies being done in India. I am sure they would outperform all these Transparency ratings by showing India is far more corrupt than these rankings make them out to be. When people say this country is more corrupt than India, I keep wondering what must be going on there. Last 4-5 years have been amazing in terms of this rise in corruption. Whoever you talk to mention the same thing…

One Response to “How public perceives corruption? Case of Sweden”

  1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay Says:

    Most of the communities in India (such as Bengali), are succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(a theory introduced by an American anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold. Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour (values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children those are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of Space’(Henri Lefebvre), at least initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up.
    – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101, India.

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