The Relevance of Political Science
Edited by Sören Holmberg and Bo Rothstein
Carl Dahlström and Victor Lapuente As noted in several chapters in this book, corruption is a persistent problem in the world today. This is true not only for developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, but also for many European democracies such as Italy and Greece (for an overview, see Holmberg et al. 2009). In the academic field of public administration and in national debates in several countries it has been suggested that corruption can be curbed by fostering a traditional organization of public administration, guaranteeing lifelong careers, formalizing recruitments, and introducing strong legal protection for civil servants. This chapter examines these suggestions and demonstrates that they are merely myths of corruption prevention. The consequences of widespread corruption for economic development and social well-being are important in several ways. For example, factors related to corruption seem to be more decisive than traditional variables in economics for explaining sustained economic growth (Mauro 1995; Hall and Jones 1999; Rodrik et al. 2004). In addition, corruption has dramatic effects on social well-being as it contributes to worse educational attainment, lower levels of health and happiness, worse protection of the environment, impoverishment of social and political trust and higher levels of violence (Holmberg et al. 2009). Therefore, the quest for finding institutional recipes to curb corruption has become a goal for many researchers and policy makers. Policy makers and academics have, for example, suggested that institutionally isolating public administration from politicians’ interferences curbs corruption. A group of characteristics that have received attention...
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