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Tuesday | 09 September, 2008

Surveying Corruption | Details Matter!

Corruption remains an endemic feature in the region, outside Georgia. No wonder, then, that it continues to receive considerable attention from organizations and donors. Currently, we are being asked to run a survey (we will publish details on that later). How do you do this? Not all of this research is intuitive. Here are a couple of examples of what can go wrong, taken from the draft questionnaire we were given.

One obvious way of getting at the issue is to measure experience, to ask whether people themselves have paid bribes in the last 12 months. Is that a good way of measuring levels of corruption? Well, there are limitations. One limitation is that you simply don't know how much people have actually interacted with institutions that may demand a bribe. If you don't have a car, if you don't need any official document, are not enrolled at a university, and don't visit a hospital you simply may not become a target. In fact, one likely result of corruption is that you minimize contacts with official institutions in order to reduce your exposure to corruption. So you definitely need to measure the extent of contact, in addition to asking people's experiences.

What actually is NOT a big problem is whether everyone will tell you the truth. The survey questionnaires typically are set up to get people talking, and ask the more sensitive questions half way through, so that the respondent already feels comfortable. Sure, quite a few people will still be reluctant to admit that they paid a bribe, so what you measure is only the number of respondents that tell you that they paid a bribe. But this in itself is valuable: the honesty typically stays pretty constant, making responses from 2007 well comparable with those from 2008.

But the questionnaire is also tricky in other ways. Let's say you want to get a sense of peoples attitudes towards paying a bribe. The following may strike you as a useful question, at face value.



But there is something wrong with asking this speculative question, since corruption is contextual. Let's look at three very different cases:
  1. You may be subsidizing an underpaid doctor so that she looks after your grandmother. Without these payments, the doctor couldn't survive. Would you refuse to pay the doctor? Probably not. Such private additional payments in exchange for a real service contrast sharply with the next case, which is...
  2. ...the public official who uses an artificially constructed bureaucratic hurdle to extract a bribe from you. Do you want to pay a bribe here? In this case, you begin to weigh short-term advantages against long-term effects.
  3. Next case: the civil servant who breaks the law and betrays public trust in return for payment. In this case, corruption could consist of granting exclusive monopolies, unwarranted certificates or permits, or desisting from prosecution when it is called for. Would you approve of paying here? Hopefully not.
Three very different cases, but all of these can be projected into the question above. The way to fix the question is to actually create various scenarios, to measure what people consider acceptable.

Note, also, that the responses are problematic. Yes, No, make sense. But how would we make the verbatim responses useful? This question needs to be closed, offering exhaustive options. After all, a survey is not a focus group.

Other useful features? Ask respondents whether they have relatives that work in the public sector, or for local police. Likely, this will have an impact on their views. Check whether they are on the Internet. Those that are again will have access to more information, be better informed, and likely that's a group that will look at things differently. English-speakers are different as well. Are respondents pro- or against the government? Do they have a car? Enriched in this way, this survey can yield powerful information. And, and, and...

Corruption remains important issue, but capturing what actually goes on is not entirely easy. We will keep you updated.
08.08.2015 | Saturday

What do CB interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence tell us?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys regularly collect information about how the interviewers assess each of the conducted interviews – so called paradata that provides additional insight into the conditions surrounding the interviews (e.g., whether someone besides the respondent and the interviewer was present during the face-to-face interview), as well as interviewers’ subjective assessments of, for example, level of sincerity of the respondents.
12.05.2016 | Thursday

Public support for Democracy is on the decline in Georgia

Following the first ever peaceful transition of power in Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections, the country improved its position in the Freedom House and Polity IV democracy rankings. Results from the latest polls, however, show that public support for democracy in Georgia has declined over the past few years.
13.11.2014 | Thursday

Exploring Homophobia in Georgia: Part 2

This is the second blog post in a series analyzing homophobia in Tbilisi. The first blog post in this series can be found here. 

Who tends to be more homophobic in Tbilisi – men or women? This blog post explores differences in homophobic attitudes between males and females using data from CRRC-Georgia’s survey of Tbilisi residents on the events of May 17, 2013, and shows that men tend to be more homophobic than women. Moreover, the findings show that men are more homophobic when they believe that homosexuality is inborn, rather than acquired.
28.07.2011 | Thursday

Upswing of Transition in Georgia

This past summer, Freedom House launched the 14th edition of its Nations in Transit (NIT) report. The publication comprehensively monitors democratic developments in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia, amongst them Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. CRRC is represented in the report with data from the 2010 Corruption Survey in Armenia.
02.07.2010 | Friday

Post-Soviet States’ Democratic Decline: Results from Freedom House Report

Freedom House has just released its Nations in Transit report for the year 2010. The report attempts to quantify democratic development in Central European and Eurasian states by observing 8 separate factors – for instance, Electoral Process and National Democratic Governance - which affect the level of democracy in a given country. Each category is graded on a score of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress, and 7 representing the lowest. Much of the media attention has typically focused on Russia.
27.08.2010 | Friday

Ask CRRC: what does the public actually know?

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showing that 18% of Americans think that US President Barack Obama is Muslim, and that a further 43% respond that they don't know what religion the President practices, has raised discussions about the level of political knowledge in democracies. Indeed, Newsweek has published a slideshow showing dumb things that Americans believe.
10.10.2010 | Sunday

Survey of PhD Students in Georgia

We recently undertook a small online survey of PhD students at Georgia's two major universities. This comes at a time when significant programs and support are already available to Georgian PhD students: CSS is launching a new PhD program, ASCN is offering significant research opportunities, the US Embassy will launch a program with Ilia State University, and now there is CARTI as a further opportunity.
29.10.2010 | Friday

Small changes in corruption rates in the Caucasus

On October 26 Transparency International released the results of the 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The CPI is a measure of domestic, public sector corruption in 178 countries, rating them on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). Nearly three quarters of the countries in the index score below five and the South Caucasus countries are no exceptions.
21.03.2008 | Friday

Philanthropy in Georgia

Corporate Social Responsibility, a fashionable issue, is becoming a topic in the South Caucasus as well. CRRC research fellow, Giorgi Meladze, explored Georgian corporations’ generosity in his research undertaken in 2006.
03.05.2008 | Saturday

Exit Polls | Take Two

Readers may recall that we voiced some concern with regards to exit polls. Here is a fascinating account, first-hand, by a reputed pollster having what they describe as an "Adventure in Baku".
06.05.2008 | Tuesday

Diversity Polling on the Caucasus | Ask500

Sometimes it's worth clicking on those Gmail links. "Ask 500" is a website in beta, the web version of a straw poll. Polling? Surveys? Obviously I wanted to know more. To say it up front: it's about as unrepresentative as you can get, since it assembles those that suffer from terminal curiosity.
09.07.2008 | Wednesday

Caucasus Data | Language: Russian versus English?

Recently, we happened upon an article that talks about the use of Russian across the Caucasus. Is Russian becoming obsolete? According to the article, some Georgian politicians suggest this is the case. At the same time, the article points out that the uptake of English is too slow to replace Russian as a lingua franca.
30.07.2008 | Wednesday

Cuil for the Caucasus? A quick test!

As many of you may have heard, this week saw the launch of a competitor to Google. Cuil, which apparently is an old Irish word for knowledge, has been set up by several former Googlists and promises a search that's more oriented on content, and says it can do a more comprehensive job in the ever-expanding worldwide web.
17.09.2008 | Wednesday

What do Russians think about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? -- Data Snapshot

How do urban Russians view the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? From September, 5th-8th, 2008 the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada conducted a survey in ten big cities of the Russian Federation, interviewing 1000 Russian respondents. We have translated the results into English here, as they are only available in the original Russian on the Levada website.
24.09.2008 | Wednesday

Baku's Urban Change | Commentary and Photography

Interested in urban development? Want to know how outsiders describe the urban experience of Baku? Two young researchers from Germany have set up a blog to follow their project in tracking changes in Baku. Oriana Kraemer and Sebastian Burger take photographs, attend lectures, and comment on what they observe. Given the inflow of sudden wealth, Baku witnesses comprehensive change. A great project, therefore.
23.10.2008 | Thursday

McCain vs Obama: Caucasus preferences


So here's something that we are a little puzzled about. The Economist is undertaking a poll to see which American Presidential candidate is favored by the world. In a very blue worldwide map, rooting for Obama, two noticeable yellowish spots, Macedonia and Georgia. McCain, of course, is popular in Georgia for having said "Today we all are Georgians" during the recent conflict.
08.11.2008 | Saturday

World Public Opinion: Azerbaijan in Focus

World Public Opinion is the initiative of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the University of Maryland that explores public opinion on a variety of topics in 25 countries across the globe, including Azerbaijan, the only South Caucasus country represented in the survey. Russia and Ukraine are the other two former USSR countries that the project includes.
13.11.2008 | Thursday

World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index | a few surprises

Indices are engaging and instructive, but some really baffle us. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisation that organises the annual high-profile Davos meetings, has come up with a gender index, and the Caucasus is featured. The index is intended to measure how the world is closing the gender gap in education, health, and political and economic participation. In principle, this is a great idea, since there are significant challenges and discrepancies (as our data itself shows).