Assessments and databases

Income and asset disclosure requirements for heads of state and governments. World Bank Group, 2006.  

This comprehensive, though somewhat outdated, survey documents whether heads of state and governments in 147 countries are required to declare assets, if these declarations are made public, which agency oversees the process, which laws regulate the procedure and provides additional comments. In 104 countries, senior officials must disclose their income and assets. Of these 104, 71 countries require officials to declare their wealth to an anti-corruption body. In addition, 33 require that declarations be published.  

Public accountability mechanisms: Income and asset disclosure. The World Bank, 2008.  

This is an unparalleled searchable dataset of legal provisions for income and asset disclosure. The database provides 87 country profiles describing economic conditions and government structure, links to country-specific institutions responsible for the enforcement of accountability mechanisms, as well as a historical timeline of relevant legislation and notable incidents of corruption. It also provides summaries of specific indicators related to the accountability mechanisms of income and asset disclosure, freedom of information, conflict of interest, immunity protections and ethics training.  

For disclosure regimes, each country is examined in terms of: (1) legal framework, (2) coverage of public officials, (3) content of declarations, (4) frequency of filing, (5) sanctions, (6) monitoring and oversight, (7) verification of declarations and (8) public access to declarations. For example, see Malawi's entry here. Interactive graphs showing the percentage of countries from different income groups/geographic regions with specific disclosure provisions are also available here.  

In 2013, the World Bank complied a report summarising its findings, including lessons learned, good practice examples and key considerations. Annex III (Selected Features of Financial Disclosure Frameworks across a Sample of 90 Countries) is particularly valuable as a condensed but comprehensive two-page synopsis of the current state of asset declaration systems around the world.  

Disclosure by politicians. Djankov, S. et al., 2010. in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics vol. 2 (April 2010): pp.179–209  

This paper surveys disclosure requirements for MPs in 175 countries, using the data in order to construct a "universal" set of items which should be: (1) declared to auditors and (2) made public as part of any comprehensive disclosure system. The findings mention that although two-thirds of countries have some form of asset declaration system, less than a third of countries make politicians' disclosures publically available, and less than one-sixth of the potentially useful information is publicly available in practice. The authors establish that richer, more democratic countries with a free press have higher rates of disclosure, but crucially only when declarations are made public are disclosure regimes associated with higher government quality and lower corruption. Finally, the nature of content disclosed is found to be vital: the identification of the sources of a parliamentarian's assets, gifts and activities is more consistently related to better government than the reporting of values of assets and income.  

Financial Disclosure Law Library. World Bank.   

The World Bank Financial Disclosure Law Library is a pioneering collection of laws and regulations on disclosure requirements for public officials’ assets and business activities, including income, properties, liabilities, stock holdings and positions outside public office. It offers access to over 1,000 laws and regulations across 176 jurisdictions worldwide. These documents include constitutions, codes, laws, decrees, acts, regulations, orders, rules, and so on in 33 languages. The portal allows users to search information according to topic (such as disclosing officials, information disclosed, restrictions, or enforcement), jurisdiction, region, income level and language.  

The library also provides information on closely-related topics, such as restrictions on public officials’ activities. The library is intended as an unbiased legal source for practitioners, policy makers and researchers within national governments; international organisations; development agencies; the media; academia; and the private sector engaged in the fields of asset disclosure. The aim is to help them to learn from the experience of other countries and act to improve and strengthen financial disclosure systems.  

Open Government Partnership eligibility criteria: Assets disclosure. Open Government Partnership. http://www.opengovpartnership....  

The OGP publishes a list of countries whose integrity and transparency infrastructure qualifies them for membership. One of the four key eligibility criteria for governments to join the OGP requires public disclosure of income and assets for elected and senior public officials. This assessment is based on studies by the World Bank, and the World Bank's Public Officials Financial Disclosure database, which is updated on a rolling basis. Four points are awarded to countries with a law requiring disclosures for politicians and senior public officials to the public, three points awarded to countries with either a law requiring disclosures for politicians or senior public officials to the public, and two points awarded for a law requiring non-public disclosures for elected or senior officials.

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