Ms. Katrin Elborgh-Woytek and Mr. Julian Berengaut
The paper analyzes the initial output decline in transition economies by estimating a crosssection model stressing two major factors-conflicts and the legacies of the Soviet period. We link the Soviet legacies in place at the outset of the transition to the subsequent path for the development of market-related institutions. Institutional development (as proxied by measures of corruption) is used as an intermediate variable. An instrumental variable approach is followed to derive estimates that are not biased by the possible endogeneity of corruption with respect to output developments. Assuming that the extent of Soviet legacies was positively correlated with the length of the communist rule allows us to use the years under the Soviet regime as an instrument.
Corruption, particularly political or “grand” corruption, distorts the entire decision-making process connected with public investment projects. The degree of distortions is higher with weaker auditing institutions. The evidence presented shows that higher corruption is associated with (i) higher public investment; (ii) lower government revenues; (iii) lower expenditures on operations and maintenance; and (iv) lower quality of public infrastructure. The evidence also shows that corruption increases public investment while reducing its productivity. These are five channels through which corruption lowers growth. An implication is that economists should be more restrained in their praise of high public sector investment, especially in countries with high corruption.