Measuring Local Corruption in China: a Cautionary Tale
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The intensification of corruption in China has led to a recent surge of scholarship examining the causes and consequences of corruption within the country. Nevertheless, no consensus exists as to how corruption should be measured at the local level. In this article, I evaluate the internal and external validity of three major groups of measures for local-level corruption in China, namely: perception-based measures, demand-side measures, and supply-side measures. In applying these measures to a model that examines the effect of corruption on local economic growth in China, I show that the results are highly dependent on the choice of the corruption measure. In conclusion, I suggest that future research using local-level corruption as a key variable should at least explore alternative measures to check for the robustness of the findings.
KeywordsLocal-Level Corruption Measurement Economic Growth Perception Survey
The author wishes to thank Songying Fang, Haifeng Huang, John Kennedy, Pierre Landry, Kevin O’Brien for helpful comments on earlier drafts.
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