That's the general conclusion of a 2007 study:

It has been argued that greater transparency is needed to reduce corruption. One way of increasing transparency is through the adoption of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. This paper uses the introduction of FOI laws as a natural experiment to determine their effect on corruption. Using a sample of democratic countries and two different corruption indices, I find that countries that adopted FOI laws saw an increase in corruption. Results are robust throughout different specifications. Moreover, I find that countries with plurality systems potentially experienced a decrease in corruption following the adoption of FOI legislation. Having a parliamentary system, however, had no impact on the effect of the reform.

It seems somewhat contradictory that FOI laws have different effects depending on the flavor of the voting system. Perhaps there are other confounders. Is there more research on this topic of FOI laws and their effect on corruption? Has some kind of consensus been reached in this field, or are published conclusions still somewhat contradictory, even more recently?

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    I am not sure if the methodology of that paper is sound. It tries to measure corruption by using indexes which are based on cases of corruption which came to the attention of the public. With more government transparency, it is to be expected that more cases of corruption come to light. So these numbers could also be interpreted as saying that FOI laws help to uncover corruption the public was previously oblivious to. The countries didn't become more corrupt, the FOI laws just showed the public how corrupt the countries actually are.
    – Philipp
    Mar 29, 2019 at 11:46
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    Countries that implemented a way to identify a crime saw an increase in that crime being identified? What a shock.
    – Giter
    Mar 29, 2019 at 12:43


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