Bribery Makes the World Go Round

While corruption is traditionally difficult to measure, the BBC reports that corruption worldwide may be rising. The article examines results from Transparency International’s?Global Corruption Barometer, which surveyed 90,000 people in 86 countries, and a BBC poll of 13,000 people in 26 countries. Perhaps the most startling finding is that 1 in 4 people surveyed by Transparency International admitted to paying a bribe in the past year – some to the police, some to permit officials and even some to the judiciary. Top reasons for bribery were divided by region: to avoid trouble with authorities?in Sub-Saharan Africa, to “speed things up” in the Arab world and Latin America,?while most in North America and the E.U. answered that they “could not remember.” Meanwhile, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index indicates that Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland and Sweden are perceived as the least corrupt countries, while Somalia is perceived as the most corrupt. [%comments]


Bribery blinds the eyes of the wise.

When it permeates the culture their will be no hope for truth and justice,

William LeGro

Lord knows it certainly makes Congress go round.

James V

Why would someone willing to give a bribe not remember why? Is it an indication of how widespread bribery is, or does it indicate how futile it is?

Cash McDollar

We are innured to our own socialeconomic system and do not see the everyday common corruptions.

As the world becomes more globalized, then at the margins societies begin to interact, and the differences and fallacies become more obvious.

Giving a resturant tip of 15%, though a custom in America, is also a bribe. And other cultures do not tip and think such monetary gifts as improper and unbecoming. Same with Christmas bonus, New Years bonus, profit sharing, Christmas party,giving alms to street beggars, free Cash bar for drinks, and buying a client dinner.

Maybe like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," we should have of policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Expect."

When we see brown bag lunches for executives and the top 1% of earners, then I know we will have a Just Society.

Cash McDollar

Bribery leads the blind.

Joe Smith

Corruption in all its forms should be fought vigorously. It is one of the leading causes of poverty and misery in the world.

The intellectual dishonesty for hire in Washington starts the US down a slippery slope that will lead to disaster.




@4, profit sharing, in particular, isn't bribery! The whole point of bribery is to break rules that are inconvenient, annoying and/or expensive.

Dr John Cameron

I note that Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton is not mentioned in the lawsuit in spite of the fact that Joe Keith, a senior Halliburton manager, admitted that he left his post aboard Transocean's rig to smoke a cigarette on the night of the April disaster in the Gulf. While he was away from his monitors, charts entered into evidence showed that pressure data indicated the well was filling up with explosive natural gas and crude. Halliburton shares immediately fell on the New York Stock Exchange when news emerged of his admission to the U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department panel in Houston. But as we hear today, American investors in Halliburton need not have worried. Is this another example of the "special relationship" or is it just how American "justice" works?


Every time I see a "We Support our Local Police" type bumper sticker that people get after they've donated to the police union or whatever, I can't help but think that they've prepaid a bribe for a moving violation.


Bribery sure creates a vested interest for people who can block/you/slow you down/hassle you etc. that you will then have to pay off.

Whatever bribery does in terms of making the world go round, oiling the wheels etc, you get back with interest for every guy ready not to put sand in the wheels in exchange for something.

Naresh Neupane

Freud 'd have analyzed it better than our freakonomists. The instinctual explanation of Eros, that's defense mechanism for protection and pleasure, is well known. But the moral factors than hinges after an official or politician is perceived as corrupt, differing country wise is the main perceived threat against bribes. Next is the civilian surveillance, like journalism and judiciary. And the gross of all reason is education and prosperity. If people are enough prosperous, especially those who gave and take (otherwise), and are well educated, then corruption may be reduced.
Where, then, is America in these factors?

John Zabrenski

Is not our legislative branch bribed every time they meet with lobbyists to secure campaign contributions.?


The worst effect of much petty corruption by government officials is that it particularly targets innovative, dynamic firms in developing countries. See:

Over time this may have a significant effect on economic growth, particularly in those countries in which even good small firms are liquidity constrained because the financial system does not work well.


Continuing Mr. Mc Dollar's line of thought is a booK title,"Illegal Graft, Legal Graft, and Just Plain Stealin'," by Martin Hauan.

Naresh Neupane

Sir, as you are more on micros of micros than on grand macros, you must've enough on human rationality. A rational being man has a perpetuation of irrationality that spills in manias, phobias, philias and neuroses that are civilizational than personal.
So is the tendency of bribe nexus spilled in all these aberrations.

Eric M. Jones

Show me the money.


This is what happens when the law is used to uphold theft. Read "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat (for free here: )


Freakonomics usually takes an amoral view of social transactions, and in view of that I would expect you folks to be saying that bribery is normal and rational, rather than implicitly condemning it.

Eileen Wyatt

@PaulD (#19) -- I believe what Freakonomics ought to be doing is arguing that bribery is an efficient form of price differentiation.