This pamphlet focuses exclusively on corrupt public practices. It liststhe potential causes and consequences of public corruption and presentsrecent evidence on the extent to which corruption affects investment,economic growth, and government expenditure choices. The evidence presented here suggests that corruption may have considerable adverseeffects on economic growth by reducing private investment and perhaps byworsening the composition of public expenditure.
This paper discusses the possible causes and consequences of corruption. It provides a synthetic review of recent studies that analyze this phenomenon empirically. In addition, it presents further results on the effects of corruption on growth and investment, and new cross-country evidence on the link between corruption and the composition of government expenditure.
Corruption has been around for a very long time and will be around in the future unless governments can figure out effective ways to combat it. This is not going to be easy. Although the study of the causes and consequences of corruption has a long history in economics, going back 30 years to seminal contributions on what economists call rent seeking (see box), related empirical work on quantifying the extent of corruption and putting a dollar sign on its economic effects has been limited. This is hardly surprising since most corruption is clandestine. Also, determining just how efficient government institutions are is not what would be called an exact science. As a consequence, corruption is notoriously hard to measure and empirical economic research on the question is fairly meager. This paper focuses exclusively on corrupt public practices—illegal activities that reduce the economic efficiency of governments. It does not address private corruption, such as that practiced on individuals and private enterprises by organized crime.