Handbook of Research on Development and Religion
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Handbook of Research on Development and Religion

Edited by Matthew Clarke

With eighty percent of the world’s population professing religious faith, religious belief is a common human characteristic. This fascinating and highly unique Handbook brings together state-of-the-art research on incorporating religion into development studies.
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Chapter 14: Corruption, religion and moral development

Heather Marquette


Interest in fighting global corruption has increased significantly since the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, famously spoke out against the ‘cancer of corruption’ in 1996. Since then, international organizations, bilateral donor agencies, charities, multinational corporations, individual activists, government watchdogs and so on have struggled to explain why corruption occurs, let alone to formulate clear strategies for its eradication. The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Anti-Corruption estimates that ‘the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP (US$ 2.6 trillion) with over US$ 1 trillion paid in bribes each year’.1 The consequences of corruption, particularly for developing countries, are hard to underestimate: The consequences of corruption are not limited to economic inefficiencies; it also reduces the provision of welfare in society, undermines democracy and political institutions, contributes to social inequalities and conflict, can have a potentially devastating impact upon the environment, and constitutes a violation of human rights. (Marquette et al., 2011, p. 17) Millions of dollars have been spent by donor agencies on anti-corruption programmes and several well-known attempts to measure corruption to inform better policy-making have been made, such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TICPI) 2 and the World Bank Institute’s Worldwide Governance Indicators.3 Despite this, many perceive corruption to be on the increase globally and new and innovative ways to fight corruption continue to be sought.

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