Sweden has traditionally been regarded as a country free from corruption. But since the mid 90s, several corruption scandals, and frequent critique of weak institutional control mechanisms, have challenged this picture. The purpose of the paper is twofold, namely: i) present popular arguments that, taken together, suggest that corruption may have increased in Swedish municipalities, and ii) explore if corruption is regarded as a substantial problem by senior members and officers in Swedish municipalities and if there is reason to believe that corruption has increased over time. The paper establishes that changes in the public sector, among else New Public Management reforms, may have contributed to altered incentives for corruption, and indeed seem to have created possibilities, for elected representatives and civil servants, to abuse public power. Empirical results from our survey of senior civil servants and elected representatives in all Swedish municipalities carried out in 2008 show that respondents do not consider corruption as widespread, which is true no matter whether respondents are asked about the situation in Swedish municipalities in general, activities and operations in the own municipality or own experiences of bribe attempts. But despite this, respondents do perceive corruption as a substantial problem and judged from respondents’ own experiences one in 20 did experience corrupt offers. Finally, although it is not possible to establish conclusively, the paper discusses based on empirical findings whether corruption really is a widespread phenomenon and has increased over time.
Erlingsson, G., Sjölin, M., Andersson, S. & Bergh, A. (2008). Hur korrupt är en icke-korrupt stat: Inblickar i lokala eliters subjektiva bedömningar. Arbetsrapport nr 1 från projektet Tillit och korruption i politiken.