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Corruption and Bureaucratic Structure in a Developing Economy


  • John Bennett


  • Saul Estrin


We address the impact of corruption in a developing economy in the context of an empirically relevant hold-up problem - when a foreign firm sinks an investment to provide infrastructure services. We focus on the structure of the economy’s bureaucracy, which can be centralized or decentralized, and characterize the ‘corruptibility’ of bureaucrats in each case. Results are explained in terms of the noninternalization, under decentralization, of the ‘bribe externality’ and the ‘price externality.’ In welfare terms, decentralization is favoured, relatively speaking, if the tax system is less inefficient, funding is less tight, bureaucrats are less venal, or compensation for expropriation is ungenerous.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bennett & Saul Estrin, 2006. "Corruption and Bureaucratic Structure in a Developing Economy," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 06-07, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  • Handle: RePEc:bru:bruedp:06-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Jakob Svensson, 2003. "Who Must Pay Bribes and How Much? Evidence from a Cross Section of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 207-230.
    5. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2000. "Corruption and Decentralization of Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 104, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    6. Christopher J. Waller & Thierry Verdier & Roy Gardner, 2002. "Corruption: Top Down or Bottom Up?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 688-703, October.
    7. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
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    9. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2002. "Decentralization and corruption: evidence across countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 325-345, March.
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    11. J. Luis Guasch, 2004. "Granting and Renegotiating Infrastructure Concessions : Doing it Right," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15024.
    12. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
    13. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence from a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 679-705.
    14. Lui, Francis T, 1985. "An Equilibrium Queuing Model of Bribery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 760-781, August.
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    16. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1996. "Revenue-Raising vs. Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Pre-Existing Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 5641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Clive Harris, 2003. "Private Participation in Infrastructure in Developing Countries : Trends, Impacts, and Policy Lessons," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15124.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lessmann, Christian & Markwardt, Gunther, 2010. "One Size Fits All? Decentralization, Corruption, and the Monitoring of Bureaucrats," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 631-646, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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