Greed, Corruption, and the Modern State
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Greed, Corruption, and the Modern State

Essays in Political Economy

Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Lagunes

What makes the control of corruption so difficult and contested? Drawing on the insights of political science, economics and law, the expert contributors to this book offer diverse perspectives. One group of chapters explores the nature of corruption in democracies and autocracies, and “reforms” that are mere facades. Other contributions examine corruption in infrastructure, tax collection, cross-border trade, and military procurement. Case studies from various regions – such as China, Peru, South Africa and New York City – anchor the analysis with real-world situations. The book pays particular attention to corruption involving international business and the domestic regulation of foreign bribery.
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Chapter 4: Corruption and democratic institutions: a review and synthesis

Matthew C. Stephenson


Do democratic elections help reduce corruption? Many reformers—both anti-corruption advocates and democracy promoters—hope and believe the answer is yes. Does the evidence support that view? Social scientists have been investigating this and associated questions for at least a quarter-century, and—as is often the case—the answers they have found are not straightforward. Nonetheless, this research has added significantly to our understanding of the relationship between democracy and corruption. This chapter will summarize and synthesize some of that research, offer some tentative conclusions about the democracy-corruption relationship, and identify some of the most important open questions that could and should be addressed in future research. The chapter is organized as follows. Section I considers how democracies and non-democracies might differ with respect to the extent or type of corruption. This section first reviews the various mechanisms by which democracy might affect corruption, and then provides a brief summary of the existing empirical evidence. Section II turns to how differences in electoral institutions—within and across democratic countries—might affect the nature and extent of corruption.

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