The indicator that measures how well a country controls corruption does not respond uniformly to corruption-related events, La Follette School students find in an analysis prepared for the U.S. foreign assistance agency Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The MCC grants large-scale assistance to other countries based on their performance on governance and economic development indicators, including how well the countries do in controlling corruption.
"The Control of Corruption indicator is a 'hard hurdle' that countries must clear to receive aid from the MCC," says Katie Cary, who wrote the report with Constance Chucholowski, Ryan Hohler, Jiaqi Lu, Malika Taalbi, in the Workshop in International Public Affairs taught by Tim Smeeding in spring 2014. "Because eligibility for aid is contingent on a country performing well on the Control of Corruption indicator, that measure receives a lot of scrutiny and criticism."
The students evaluated the indicator in the context of corruption-related events in five countries: Benin, Canada, Kenya, Georgia and Serbia. They find that events do not affect the indicator uniformly, perhaps because the MCC bases the indicator on perceptions of corruption, rather than actual corruption, which is difficult to measure due to its clandestine nature, Cary says.
"The results of our analysis can assist the MCC in recommending more targeted policy solutions for stakeholders who need more support to focus on long-term capacity development rather than short-term program fixes," Cary says.
The students recommend that the MCC should further study how it evaluates corruption in other countries.