We draw on the background of regional and local governments in China to identify the source of endemic corruption in the behavior of officials in government bureaucracies. When personal advancement in a bureaucracy involves payment of bribes to superiors, corruption is the consequence of the need to finance the bribes. In order to pay the bribes, government officials need to receive bribes, which are sought from subordinates in the government bureaucracy and from private individuals. All individuals are not, of course, equally corrupt or corruptible and merit is also a basis for advancement. However, corruption is endemic if the heads of government bureaucracies are corrupt in the procedures and criteria for personal advancement in the government bureaucracy.
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