Rajendra Dhar


Most studies of corruption focus on institutional factors:

Need for stronger and more effective institutions.
Lack of democracy
Ineffective judiciary
Unfair elections
Lack of free media
Democratic institutions are not the source of clean government, but democratic practices contribute strongly to honest government.
Elections can be sources of corruption.
Media may be captured or may be ineffective.
The simple adoption of democratic institutions has not led to less corruption.

The Inequality Trap
From The Bulging Pocket and the Improper Rule of Law emanates Corruption, Inequality, and Mistrust.
The dilemma of low trust in outsiders and high trust only in your own group.
Inequality and in-group trust lead to clientelism.
This pattern is difficult to break.

Two types of inequality:
Economic inequality.

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Unfair legal system
The only institutional factor that matters for corruption is the fairness of the legal system, not the “efficiency” of the legal system. It has been keenly observed as well is a matter of record that “TRIAL COURT JUDGES/JUDICIAL OFFICERS” avoid/evade passing orders in matters which have been presented before them as well as argued in totality instead they simply make notings purposely i.e. “part arguments heard & Put up for next date & This goes on date after date “ HOW UNFAIR & UNETHICAL. THIS ATTITUDE OF THE“TRIAL COURT JUDGES/JUDICIAL OFFICERS” NEEDS TO BE CHECKED BY THE HIGHER UPS IMMEDIATELY.

Making it more difficult for the poor to have access to the legal system. People in the informal sector have no legal rights.
Shielding people at the top.
The elite can evade taxes and bribe officials and not be prosecuted.
If they are indicted, they may not be tried.
If they are tried, they will not be convicted.
If convicted, they won’t go to jail.

The inequality trap persists because:
Corruption is “sticky.”
Inequality is “sticky.”
Trust is “sticky” over time and across generations.

Institutions do not change often, but more often than corruption, inequality, and trust.

The wave of democratization in the 1980s did NOT lead to less corruption.
Corruption actually increased in many transition countries after the fall of Communism and the adoption of

Democracy means two things:
Democratic institutions
Democratic practice: taking people people’s preferences and values into account when making public policy, addressing people people’s needs, formulating public policy according to those preferences and needs.
Democratic practice also means treating people as equals.

Research shows that democratic institutions are not sufficient to curb corruption.

Media consumption, centralization, federalism, the nature of the electoral system, the level of wages paid to officials also don’t matter.
Change in democratization over time is unrelated to change in corruption.

Democratic Practice
Structural reforms may not matter much for corruption.
However: Democratic countries are far less corrupt than non non-democracies.
Countries with strong democratic practices, especially treating everyone equally, are considerably less likely to be corrupt.

High inequality leads to low out out-group trust, which in turn leads to high levels of corruption.

The only institutional factor that matters for corruption is the fairness of the legal system, not the “efficiency” of the legal system.
Policy also matters: Strangling regulation leads to higher levels of corruption.

How People Perceive Corruption
Look at public attitudes toward corruption in transition countries.
In transition countries, people see a clear link between corruption and inequality, both economic and legal.
What bothers people is not petty corruption, but grand corruption.

The Great Exceptions
Singapore and Hong Kong are exceptions.
Singapore and Hong Kong rose to the top of the “honesty” scale even though they were not democracies.
Both these countries had vigorous anti-corruption commissions.
Singapore, Hong Kong had anti anti-corruption drives connected to programs of mass persuasion and
special economic programs designed to promote fast growth and less inequality.

To combat corruption, you must fight economic inequality & strive for people’s freedom from want.
The best way to reduce inequality is through universal rather than means-tested social welfare programs.
It is often difficult to gain public support because of high levels of inequality.
These difficulties are among the reasons why unequal countries remain corrupt, why inequality often forms a “trap.”

Without changing the mindset of the people at large by means of mass persuasion there is little hope for curbing corruption.