20 December 2015

Anti-corruption reforms should pay more attention to threats of violence

University of Gothenburg

In low-income countries, government officials who refuse to be bribed to turn a blind eye to crimes are often threatened with violence. Up until now, not enough attention has been paid to this problem when anti-corruption reforms have been developed. Moreover, systems with merit-based salaries can even increase corruption. This has been shown in a doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg.

It is difficult to find measures that will reduce small-scale corruption in, for instance, countries where the police often accept bribes in order to turn a blind eye to crimes. One explanation for this is the social expectations within these bureaucracies: few officials stand to gain anything personally by being the first person to refuse a bribe and therefore the most effective measure would be to change the whole system at once if possible. Another frequently used explanatory model states that corruption can best be counteracted by changing the incentives for the officials, i.e. more monitoring and heavier penalties for those who commit irregularities, and higher pay for those who stick to the rule book.


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