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Corruption and the Curse: The Dictator’s Choice

Author

Listed:
  • Mare Sarr

    (School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Tim Swanson

    (Department of Economics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies)

Abstract

We develop a dynamic discrete choice model of a self-interested and unchecked ruler making decisions regarding the exploitation of a resource-rich country. This dictator makes the recursive choice between either investing domestically to live off the productivity of the country while facing the risk of being ousted, or looting the country’s riches by liquefying the resources and departing. We demonstrate that important parameters determining this choice include the level of resources, liquidity and indebtedness. We find that the dictator’s choice regarding the timing of departure is significantly related to external lending, investment and debt. We then argue that this looting phenomenon provides an explanation for the generation of corrupt economies in resource-rich countries. An empirical analysis of available corruption indices suggests that instability-led looting provides a more fundamental explanation of perceived corruption than do various social and cultural indicators or the economic theory of internal political competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Mare Sarr & Tim Swanson, 2013. "Corruption and the Curse: The Dictator’s Choice," Working Papers 2013.06, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2013.06
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    Cited by:

    1. Mare Sarr & Timothy Swanson & Chiara Ravetti & Siri Wingaard, 2012. "Aiding and Abetting the Looting of Nations: The impact of Aid on growth in Autocracies," CIES Research Paper series 15-2012, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corruption; Dictatorship; Lending and Indebtedness; Looting; Natural Resource Curse;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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