Political corruption scandals may be predicted by network science

political corruption
Complex network of individuals involved in corruption scandals in Brazil from 1987 to 2014. Each vertex represents an individual, and the edges between vertices indicate that both individuals participated in the same corruption scandal. Credit: Ribeiro et al. ©2018 Journal of Complex Networks

According to the World Bank, corruption scandals siphon more than $2 trillion per year from the global economy, making corruption one of the major causes of slow economic growth and socioeconomic inequality. Now in a new study, researchers have demonstrated that it may be possible to predict who will play a role in future scandals by modeling current scandals using networks. The results may provide a tool for detecting corruptive practices and reducing the high cost of corruption to society.

The researchers, led by Matjaž Perc at the University of Maribor in Slovenia and the Complexity Science Hub Vienna in Austria, along with Haroldo V. Ribeiro from the University of Maringá and coauthors from two other universities in Brazil, have published a paper on their analysis of political corruption using in a recent issue of the Journal of Complex Networks.

In their work, the researchers constructed a dynamic of 27 years' worth of political corruption scandals in Brazil, and used time series analysis to study how the network evolves over the years. The model involves more than 400 nodes that represent individuals, along with links connecting individuals who were involved in the same , for a total of 65 well-documented scandals. Overall, the results showed that such networks reveal a great deal of information about the intricacies of the scandals.

"Despite all odds, going against the veil of secrecy that surrounds corruption, and going against the people who are doing their best to remain anonymous and undetected, we show that applying methods of network science uncovers the gist of politically corrupt behavior," Perc told Phys.org.

Among the findings are that political scandals typically rise and fall in time with election cycles, that scandals often involve small groups of 8 or so people (presumably because smaller groups are easier to conceal), and that it's possible to identify individuals who have played central roles in multiple scandals.

To test the network's predictive power, the researchers applied several different algorithms to predict missing links based on the similarity between nodes. They found that the best algorithms have statistically significant predictive power, with more than 25% of the top 10 predicted links appearing in future stages of the corruption network.

"We show empirically that corruption boils down to self-interested behavior in small groups that exist in hierarchical small-world networks," Perc said. "We observe that the number of politicians involved in corruption increases with an oscillatory undulation that is linked to the four-year election cycle in Brazil. We also find that only a few well-linked individuals dominate a modular network structure, which often changes suddenly as the government changes. And ultimately, we show that future 'partners in crime' can be accurately predicted based on the dynamical structure of corruption networks. In short, we show that politically corrupt behavior gives away nearly all of its secrets when analyzed in the realm of networks."

In the future, the scientists plan to apply these techniques to a problem which they are all too familiar with: the ethics of research funding, particularly in Slovenia.

"The biggest challenge lies in obtaining comprehensive and reliable data," Perc said. "We may therefore look next at relatively overseeable public sector operations in Slovenia, from state-funded research to the national award system, which appear to be off their hinges in recent years. These operations are failing to support capable young people in exchange for keeping utterly useless but politically loyal individuals and institutions happy. Hopefully, our research will help with the transition towards a sustainable and more meritocratic spending of public research funds."

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More information: Haroldo V. Ribeiro et al. "The dynamical structure of political corruption networks." Journal of Complex Networks. To be published. Also at arXiv:1801.01869 [physics.soc-ph]

© 2018 Phys.org

Citation: Political corruption scandals may be predicted by network science (2018, January 17) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-political-corruption-scandals-network-science.html
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Jan 17, 2018
Isn't this known as "follow the money."

Jan 17, 2018
Are not "Political" and "corruption" mutually inclusive?
Does this investment in defining the minutiae of it's saturation yield an equitable return in tangibly affecting its diminishment?
Here is my empirical prediction: it will absolutely occur at the slightest opportunity.
No need to thank me. I give where I can. It's just....how I roll~

Jan 18, 2018
New research found that whenever you find live fish there is also water present. Statistically.

Jan 18, 2018
Now we face two competing dilemmas. First, with all the advances in brain/thought scanning technology. Souped up with behavior predictive methods such as described in this article. It becomes possible to make reasonably accurate predictions of individual behavior?

Who do you trust to program, direct, control, audit. ENFORCE compliance to the new Social Standards?

Second, Voluntary or coerced? Will you be permitted to opt out and refuse brain scans? After all, they are for your own good!

Jan 18, 2018
The current RICO investigation of the Trump Team and the Russians is a perfect example with which to test this hypothesis.

Jan 18, 2018
If Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) then Trump must be a mobster boss as it was designed to nail the mafia. Seems like there trying to nail him for espionage.

Now what would be special (RICO) about the Swamp mobsters? The congressional committees which use inside information for stock trading would be more appropriate for RICO charges, however, if Congress does it it is legal. They also use their committee positions to create circumstance they can use for insider trading. That is definitely RICO. Nuke the Swamp mobsters and public employee unions.

Jan 18, 2018
The RICO investigation has to do with huge money transfers out of Russia into the US and other places. The investigations were under way for years when Trump put the suspects on his team. Look for Wilbur Ross to get indicted in the end of this for hiding money stolen by Putin. He is now our Secretary of Commerce!

Jan 18, 2018
I did think Trump was going to be accused under RICO as he has been a builder in NYC. It is impossible for a builder to not directly or indirectly interface with the mob. Concrete is a particular problem. Building in NYC costs 20% more just to fed the mob.

Jan 18, 2018
I don't believe anything reported out of the Swamp.

Jan 18, 2018
I am serious about the theory and the present reality. The investigators are in broad fields looking into the biggest and most important case in DoJ history. It includes connivance with Russian intelligence and the Russian mob, includes many banks, and properties in the United States and elsewhere.

It is a true RICO target, for which the legislation was intended - broad scale conspiracy and actions involving lots of money linking criminal groups together.

Jan 18, 2018
I don't want to be partisan, but if ever there was an entity to apply RICO to it is the Clinton Foundation. Its operations are outside the US so it does not have to disclose its books as others have to. What public employees unions (monopolies) do is illegal in the private sector. The moral and ethical corruption has no limits. If a private sector enterprise pulled this stuff it would go to jail.

Jan 18, 2018
How many more investigations of the Clintons do you need? She spent what, thirteen hours under oath the last time facing rabid and hateful Congressmen, and not a single Republican could get a thing on her despite decades of looking!!

Give it up. You fell for it like you did "WMD!", because it was what you wanted to believe.

Jan 18, 2018
Go to the Clinton cash website. Ask why the "charitable" foundation retains such huge amounts of cash and for such a long time. If an real charity holds huge amounts of cash to long they lose their status as a charity.

There is a different law which governs the entitled.

This shouldn't be a partisan discussion.

Jan 19, 2018
Turgent, you have accomplished a new level of self-serving hypocrisy, urging other people, who disagree with your fascist ideology, "Not to be so partisan".

Just to piss you off I'm listening to Leonard Cohen sing "The Partisan" song.

And here's some tidbits to sour your groveling to a lying scoundrel. I am amused at the description of Trump getting bitch-slapped as he cowered at the feet of the NY Union boss.

Though reading of a dominatrix smacking submissive Trump on his rump with Fortune Magazine has a zing!


Gotta get you wondering about our Bogus POTUS and his love affair with Putin. Makes me laugh visualizing the little Russian guy swinging a strap to the fat, pink butt of his 'STrumpet'.

Though we have to glumly consider that both fuehrers of the Global Fascist Axis are senile buffoons.

Jan 19, 2018

Krank und pathetisch

Ich habe nie in meinem Leben so vile Gelbsucht in meiner Mitbürgerinnen und Mitbürger. Intoleranz gegenüber anderen Meinungen egal wie dumm sie sein mag, in den Augen des Betrachters ist Verrat an allem, die was gut ist. Es bringt Tränen in meine Augen, die solche perverse Putridness im Einzelfall zu sehen. Ficken Braunhemden.

Jan 19, 2018
I did think Trump was going to be accused under RICO as he has been a builder in NYC. It is impossible for a builder to not directly or indirectly interface with the mob. Concrete is a particular problem
So all builders are criminals? Stinking bigot.

Easy to predict corruption. It's whenever dems get elected.

-Stay tuned.

Jan 19, 2018
Are not "Political" and "corruption" mutually inclusive?
As Aristotle told us, democracy is doomed to deteriorate into despotism. Dems thrive on poverty, on people who need big govt to feed and clothe and house them and treat their diseases caused by obesity and addiction.

Poverty is caused primarily by overgrowth which occurs mainly among people who have nothing else to do but make babies, and who never learned to live within their means because the govt has always been their means, not them.

Overgrowth also results in corruption as more people chase dwindling resources and seek to influence politicians to favor them at the expense of everybody else.

Weimar created NSDAP. Hitler joked that there were over 30 major political parties, an indication that liberalism had failed to resolve overcrowding and corruption.

Hitler promised lebensraum and began killing off all the corrupt.

Jan 19, 2018
"So all builders are criminals? Stinking bigot." Not at all. They have to operate in a mob environmental.

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