IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Is corruption an efficient grease?

  • Pierre-Guillaume Méon
  • Laurent Weill

This paper tests whether corruption may be an efficient grease in the wheels of an otherwise deficient institutional framework. It analyzes the interaction between aggregate efficiency, corruption, and other dimensions of governance for a panel of 69 countries, both developed and developing. Using two measures of corruption and two other aspects of governance, we observe that corruption is less detrimental to efficiency in countries where institutions are less effective. It may even be positively associated with efficiency in countries where institutions are extremely ineffective. We thus find evidence for the “grease the wheels” hypothesis in its weak and strong forms.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Elsevier_71250
Download Restriction: only accessible to specific communities

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series ULB Institutional Repository with number 2013/92603.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in: World development (2010) v.38 n° 3,p.244-259
Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/92603
Note: SCOPUS: ar.j
Contact details of provider: Postal:
CP135, 50, avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles

Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  2. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Khalid Sekkat, 2005. "Does corruption grease or sand the wheels of growth?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 69-97, January.
  3. Caselli, Francesco, 2005. "Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 679-741 Elsevier.
  4. Axel Dreher & Lars-H. Siemers, 2009. "The nexus between corruption and capital account restrictions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(1), pages 245-265, July.
  5. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
  6. W. J. Henisz, 2000. "The Institutional Environment for Economic Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  7. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Laurent Weill, . "Is corruption an efficient grease?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/8408, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Mendez, Fabio & Sepulveda, Facundo, 2006. "Corruption, growth and political regimes: Cross country evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 82-98, March.
  9. Edwards, Sebastian, 1998. "Openness, Productivity and Growth: What Do We Really Know?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 383-98, March.
  10. Axel Dreher & Friedrich Schneider, 2006. "Corruption and the Shadow Economy: An Empirical Analysis," KOF Working papers 06-123, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  11. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Aggregating governance indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2195, The World Bank.
  12. Aidt, T.S., 2009. "Corruption, Institutions and Economic Development," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0918, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  13. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
  14. Kurer, Oskar, 1993. "Clientelism, Corruption, and the Allocation of Resources," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 259-73, October.
  15. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-32.
  17. Toke Aidt & Jayasri Dutta & Vania Sena, 2006. "Governance Regimes, Corruption and Growth: Theory and Evidence," Discussion Papers 15_2006, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  18. Daniel Kaufmann & Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Does 'Grease Money' Speed Up the Wheels of Commerce?," IMF Working Papers 00/64, International Monetary Fund.
  19. Lee C. Adkins & Ronald L. Moomaw & Andreas Savvides, 2002. "Institutions, Freedom, and Technical Efficiency," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 92-108, July.
  20. Johann Graf Lambsdorff, 2003. "How Corruption Affects Productivity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 457-474, November.
  21. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 2000. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," CID Working Papers 42, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  22. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Mo, Pak Hung, 2001. "Corruption and Economic Growth," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 66-79, March.
  24. Lui, Francis T, 1985. "An Equilibrium Queuing Model of Bribery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 760-81, August.
  25. Beck, Paul J. & Maher, Michael W., 1986. "A comparison of bribery and bidding in thin markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-5.
  26. Dreher, Axel, 2005. "IMF and Economic Growth: The Effects of Programs, Loans, and Compliance with Conditionality," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Kiel 2005 11, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  27. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  28. Kaufman, Daniel & Shang-Jin Wei, 1999. "Does"grease money"speed up the wheels of commerce?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2254, The World Bank.
  29. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
  30. Isaac Ehrlich & Francis T. Lui, 1999. "Bureaucratic Corruption and Endogenous Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S270-S293, December.
  31. Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
  32. Chen, Kang, 2004. "Fiscal centralization and the form of corruption in China," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 1001-1009, November.
  33. Axel Dreher & Christos Kotsogiannis & Steve McCorriston, 2007. "Corruption Around the World: Evidence from a Structural Model," Discussion Papers 0702, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  34. Toke S. Aidt, 2003. "Economic analysis of corruption: a survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages F632-F652, November.
  35. Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Local Corruption and Global Capital Flows," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(2), pages 303-354.
  36. Lien, Da-Hsiang Donald, 1986. "A note on competitive bribery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 337-341.
  37. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Laurent Weill, 2004. "Does better governance foster efficiency? An aggregate frontier analysis," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, January.
  38. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
  39. Francesco Caselli, 2005. "Accounting for cross-country income differences," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3567, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  40. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2001. "Tropical Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 8119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Mauro, Paolo, 1998. "Corruption and the composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 263-279, June.
  42. Kneller, Richard & Andrew Stevens, Philip, 2003. "The specification of the aggregate production function in the presence of inefficiency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 223-226, November.
  43. Olson, Mancur, Jr & Sarna, Naveen & Swamy, Anand V, 2000. "Governance and Growth: A Simple Hypothesis Explaining Cross-Country Differences in Productivity Growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 102(3-4), pages 341-64, March.
  44. Nehru, Vikram & Dhareshwar, Ashok & DEC, 1994. "New estimates of total factor productivity growth for developing and industrial countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1313, The World Bank.
  45. Alberto Ades & Rafael Di Tella, 1997. "The New Economics of Corruption: a Survey and Some New Results," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 45(3), pages 496-515.
  46. Rock, Michael T. & Bonnett, Heidi, 2004. "The Comparative Politics of Corruption: Accounting for the East Asian Paradox in Empirical Studies of Corruption, Growth and Investment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 999-1017, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/92603. 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: (Benoit Pauwels)

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.