December 11, 2009

Corruption Survey of Households: Comparative Results for 2008/2009

As part of the Mobilizing Action Against Corruption (MAAC) program, the CRRC has conducted a detailed corruption survey of households across Armenia. This is the second survey in the framework of MAAC. The first survey took place in the fall of 2008, in cooperation with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

For the survey, 1416 respondents were interviewed face-to-face. Respondents represent the voting age population in Armenia (18 years +) across all marzes. The respondents were selected through multistage cluster sampling with preliminary stratification by urban/rural and by marz. The sampling frame was the electricity users list that is used for many nation-wide surveys in Armenia.

According to the research, 72% of respondents are dissatisfied with the overall situation in Armenia in the last year, compared to 62% in 2008. Unemployment again is identified as the main problem facing Armenia today, and findings suggest that it indeed increased noticeably. Poverty, inflation and economic problems in general are also key issues of concern for Armenians.

More than 8 in 10 consider corruption to be a serious problem facing the nation, while in comparison with the past year more respondents feel that corruption is perceived as a fact of everyday life. The percentage of respondents who believe that corruption will always exist grew from 22% in 2008 to 28% in 2009.

Corruption continues to be perceived as very common in institutions and public offices. Sixty one percent of the respondents believe the courts and the prosecution to be corrupt to some or to a great extent. The Central Election Commission is also deemed corrupt by many respondents (54%). Electoral systems and processes, the police, healthcare, education, tax services, and custom authorities are among the most corrupt sectors in Armenia.

The survey also captures the social acceptability of corruption. The research identifies four distinct groups in Armenia. The first group are the candid corruption supporters, who openly say that they would both give and take a bribe; they constitute 19% of respondents. Another group, the passive payers (36%) said they would pay bribes but would refuse to take them; a small group (3%) wouldn’t give a bribe but would take it. Underlining the social desirability of integrity, 42% of the respondents say they would refuse to either pay or take a bribe. The main reason for paying a bribe is the perception that there is no other way to get things done or because there is a need to speed up processes and procedures.

Overall, Armenians seemed reluctant to assume a proactive role in combating corruption. When asked what they personally can do to reduce corruption in Armenia, 60% of respondents said that there was nothing they could do. 75% of the respondents do not yet know the institutions which they need to contact for reporting a case of corruption. Of those who know where to report corruption, only a fraction does. According to respondents, the main reason for not wanting to report is that society does not reward such behavior. It also appears that corruption payments often seem to be at an equilibrium price where they are insufficiently painful to spur the payer into action.

Overall, the findings show a nuanced picture of corruption in Armenia, including some fields in which there are improvements. The overall situation, however, has not improved since 2008, but rather deteriorated slightly. The survey results from 2008 and 2009 thus provide a robust baseline against which future progress can be measured. A detailed study with sector-specific information will be made available in early 2010.

The main findings of the survey have been presented twice this week. On December 9, 2009, Heghine Manasyan, CRRC-Armenia Country Director, and Bagrat Harutyunyan, Assistant professor at YSU presented comparative results for 2008/2009 within the MAAC’s 6th Anti-Corruption Forum. CRRC Regional Director Hans Gutbrod hold the second presentation for the members of the USAID-USG Anticorruption Coordination Group at the Ani Plaza Hotel on December 11, 2009. Presentation slides in PDF are available for download here.

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