Indulgent citizens: Bribery in Mexico’s bureaucratic procedures
This article offers evidence of the embedded nature of bribery in Mexico. Drawing on three theoretical frameworks that deviate from standard individualistic rational-choice approaches, the paper examines a shared assertion: systemic corruption is a regime so deeply engrained in social relationships and norms that prevents people from attributing a moral connotation to their behavior. Based on individual-level data from two waves of a national survey on government performance, I find that users of government procedures in Mexico are indifferent to bribery, as the occurrence of petty corruption acts does not influence their appraisal of various administrative transactions. By demonstrating that everyday acts of bribery are, in general, immune to social disapproval in a setting of high corruption like Mexico, this article contributes to understanding better the complexity of such phenomenon and why anti-corruption policies are not likely to succeed if they do not design ways to cope with the social normalization of corruption.