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Social and Political Consequences of Administrative Corruption: A Study of Public Perceptions in Spain


  • Manuel Villoria is head of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Ortega y Gasset Research Institute and professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid. From 1992 to 1993, he was a Fulbright Fellow in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He has published widely in the fi elds of public management, ethics in the public sector, and corruption. E-mail:

  • Gregg G. Van Ryzin is associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University–Newark. His research focuses on how citizens judge public services and institutions and on the use of surveys and other methods for evaluating government performance. He has published widely in scholarly journals in the fi elds of public administration, policy analysis, and urban affairs and is author (with Dahlia K. Remler) of Research Methods in Practice (Sage, 2011). E-mail:

  • Cecilia F. Lavena is a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University–Newark. She received her master of public administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 and her master's degree in education management from the University of San Andres, Argentina, in 2002. She has worked for the Ministry of Education in Argentina and as a research assistant at the World Bank Offi ce in Argentina. Her research interests include countercorruption strategies in public organizations. E-mail:


Spain experienced an outbreak of public sector corruption—much of it related to the involvement of regional and local administrators and politicians in the country's urban development boom—that angered the public and sparked calls for government reform. Using data from a 2009 survey that followed these events, the authors examine the association between perceived corruption and the attitudes and behaviors of citizens, including satisfaction with government and democracy, social and institutional trust, and rule-breaking behaviors. The findings suggest that perceptions of administrative as well as political corruption are associated with less satisfaction, lower levels of social and institutional trust, and a greater willingness to break rules. Although these survey results cannot prove causation, they are consistent with the notion that administrative and political corruption damages the legitimacy of government in the eyes of citizens and weakens the social fabric of democratic society.