Variations on a Theme: Corruption in Mexico and the U.S.

Stephen D. Morris


While widely-cited measures based on expert opinion show significantly higher levels of corruption in Mexico than the U.S., other surveys reflecting public opinion show strikingly much closer results. Such patterns raise questions regarding the underlying meanings and types of corruption that inform these surveys. This paper explores these differences and similarities while highlighting the distinct patterns of corruption found in the two countries. I argue that the opinions of the Mexican and US public emphasize a certain form of corruption and share a broader understanding of the concept, while experts’ opinion reflect a narrower approach and understanding of corruption. In the end, the study underscores the serious mismatch between different conceptualizations and types of corruption, on the one hand, and how corruption is measured, on the other.


Corruption; Mexico; United States; Perceptions; Methodology

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