IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Developing Rotten Institutions


  • Kelly, Morgan


This paper models corruption as optimal parasitism in organizations where teams of agents are weakly restrained by principals. Each agent takes on part of the role of principal, choosing how much to invest in policing to repress corruption in others and how rapaciously to act when unpoliced opportunities arise. This simple model can incorporate many factors stressed in empirical analyses of corruption, and gives rise to a wide variety of equilibria. Allowing income to co-evolve with corruption, we show how adding corruption to a textbook exogenous growth model leads to a Lucas paradox. When income and corruption affect each other sufficiently strongly, economies converge to two corner equilibria despite diminishing returns to capital: a rich, clean corner and a poor, corrupt one; a pattern that appears to characterize international data.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelly, Morgan, 2005. "Developing Rotten Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5281, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5281

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Distributional Implications of Introducing a Broad-Based Consumption Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 1-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ventura, Gustavo, 1999. "Flat tax reform: A quantitative exploration," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(9-10), pages 1425-1458, September.
    3. Isabel Correia & Juan Pablo Nicolini & Pedro Teles, 2008. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy: Equivalence Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 141-170, February.
    4. Krusell, Per & Quadrini, Vincenzo & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Are consumption taxes really better than income taxes?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 475-503, June.
    5. Santiago Budría & Javier Díaz-Giménez, 2007. "Economic inequality in Spain: the european community household panel dataset," Spanish Economic Review, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 1-38, March.
    6. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
    7. ColemanII, Wilbur John, 2000. "Welfare and optimum dynamic taxation of consumption and income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 1-39, April.
    8. Correia, Isabel H., 1999. "On the efficiency and equity trade-off," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 581-603, December.
    9. Daniel R. Feenberg & Andrew W. Mitrusi & James M. Poterba, 1997. "Distributional Effects of Adopting a National Retail Sales Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 49-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 2003. "Equity and Resources: An Analysis of Education Finance Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 858-897, August.
    11. David E. Altig & Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Kent Smetters & Jan Walliser, 1997. "Simulating U.S. tax reform," Working Paper 9712, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    12. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-417, June.
    13. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x, January.
    14. Jorgenson, Dale W & Wilcoxen, Peter J, 1997. "The Long-Run Dynamics of Fundamental Tax Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 126-132, May.
    15. Isabel H. Correia, 1999. "Fiscal rules of income transformation," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 13(1), pages 199-205.
    16. Elhanan Helpman & Efraim Sadka, 1982. "Consumption Versus Wage Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(2), pages 363-372.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    corruption; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5281. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.