Corruption in the public schools of Europe: A cross-national multilevel analysis of education system characteristics
Researchers have long theorized that characteristics of education systems impact both perceived and experienced corruption in public schools. However, due to insufficient cross-national survey data with measures on corruption in education and unassembled yet publicly available institutional data, there are few empirical tests of this theory. This article provides the rare direct test of the relationship between corruption in European public schools and three education system factors: government expenditure on education, education staff compensation, and teacher workload (pupil–teacher ratio). With a newly constructed harmonized data set for European countries, and controlling for national economic factors and individual characteristics, results of multilevel analyses suggest partial support for the theory that specific institutional characteristics of education systems impact public school corruption. The theorized institutional factors have different effects that depend on whether we examine bribe-giving experience or corruption perception. Results show that bribe-giving experience in public schools of Europe is weakly yet significantly related to education staff compensation. For corruption perception, low levels of government expenditure on education and a lopsided pupil–teacher ratio (too few teachers per student) increase the probability that people view corruption as prevalent.