Civic engagement and governance

Well-functioning democracies require people to engage and participate in the different aspects and activities of public life. Through engagement and participation individuals influence and determine the political choices that impact everyone’s lives and well-being. Civic engagement and participation are necessary conditions for effective governance, while, at the same time, good quality of governance, through different institutional settings, can enhance citizens’ participation.

Across OECD regions, people living in regions with higher voter turnout in national elections often have a lower perception of government corruption (Figure 1.24). In more participative democracies it might be more difficult for elected officials to commit acts of corruption; on the other hand, less corrupt and more efficient public institutions might motivate people’s participation and trust in institutions’ capacity to generate positive change.

The largest regional disparities in electoral participation to national elections are presented in the United States, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Chile and Portugal (above 20 percentage points) (Figure 1.25).

Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland present relatively low levels of perceived corruption (below 30%) and small regional variations; the Czech Republic, Greece, Israel, Italy and Portugal show very high levels of perceived corruption (above 80%) with average regional gaps. Finally, the largest regional disparities in perceived corruption are found in Canada, Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States (above 30 percentage points) (Figure 1.26).


Voter turnout refers to the extent of electoral participation in national elections. It is defined as the percentage of individuals who cast a ballot in a national election with respect to the population registered to vote. Data on voter turnout are gathered by National Statistical Offices and National Electoral Management Bodies.

Perception of corruption, which is intended to capture elements of the quality of the government, is calculated as the percentage of people that responded “Yes” to the question “Is corruption widespread throughout the government in (this country), or not?”. The indicator on perception of corruption was calculated using microdata from the Gallup World Poll (see Brezzi and Díaz Ramírez, 2016).


Gallup World Poll (2015),

OECD (2015), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

Reference years and territorial level

Voter turnout: 2006-14; TL2 (Greece, the Netherlands and New Zealand, NUTS 1).

Perception of corruption: 2006-14; TL2 (New Zealand, NUTS 1; Estonia TL3).

Further information

OECD Regional Well-Being:

Boarini, R. and M. Díaz Ramírez (2015), “Cast a Ballot or Protest in the Street - Did our Grandparents Do More of Both?: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis in Political Participation”, OECD Statistics Working Papers, No. 2015/02, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Brezzi, M. and M. Díaz Ramirez (2016), “Building subjective well-being indicators at the subnational level: A preliminary assessment in OECD regions”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2016/03, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

 1.24: Each dot represents a TL2 region in the OECD countries. Greece and the Netherlands are not included.

 1.25: Latest available years: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom 2015. Australia, Austria, Chile, Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg and Norway 2013. Finland, France, Greece, Korea, Mexico and United States 2012. Ireland, Netherlands and New Zealand 2011.

Information on data for Israel:

1.24. Regional voter turnout in national elections and perception of corruption; average 2006-14

1.25. Regional variation in national elections voter turnout, 2014

1.26. Per cent of people who believe the government is corrupt, average 2006-14