Causes of Corruption

Although corruption differs from country to country, it is possible to identify a few of the key common driving forces that generate it. What is common to all countries, which are among the among most corrupt, has been recognized; all of them are developing countries or countries in transition,

  • with rare exceptions, low-revenue countries,
  • most countries that have a closed economic system,
  • the influence of religion is visible Protestant countries have far the lowest level of corruption),
  • low media freedom and
  • a comparatively low level of education.

Regardless of the above, corruption cannot be assessed unambiguously, since there is by no means just one phenomenon that is responsible for the occurrence and the development of it; corruption always arises from an array of several, interrelated elements which might differ significantly from one another. Among the most commonly talked about elements that influence the development of corruption are: political and economic environment, professional ethics and laws, as well as purely ethnological components, similar to customs, habits and traditions.

Recent empirical researches also attest to that; whereas many countries have suffered consequence of corruption, the decline in economic growth and other countries have had economic growth (in some cases a very positive constructive one) despite corruption. The latter can also be to be expected, since corruption has many manifestations and it would be surprising if all kinds of corrupt practices had the same impact on economic performance. Analyses show that one of the causes for that is the extent to which the perpetrators of corrupt practices—in this case the bureaucrats—coordinate their conduct. In the absence of an organized corruption network, each bureaucrat collects bribes for himself, while ignoring the adverse impact of others’ calls for them. In the presence of such a network, the collective bureaucracy reduces the entire worth of the bribe, which leads to decrease bribe payments and better innovation, and the economic growth consequently higher in the latter case than in the former case. The fascinating| question is not why is the degree of corruption in poor countries higher than within the wealthy ones, but rather why the nature of corruption differs between countries. The extent to which corruption is organized is just one aspect of this, but there are other aspects. For example, it is common practice in some countries pay ex post (as a share of revenue, for example) instead of ex ante (in advance, as a bribe) to officers or politicians, so it is assumed that the effects on the economy will be different. The precise reason why corruption should tackle one form and never the other is a crucial issue which has been largely ignored and which could have to do with cultural, social and political causes, as well as economic circumstances.