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Corruption and Pro-Poor Growth Outcomes: Evidence and Lessons for African Countries


  • Léonce Ndikumana


There is growing consensus that corruption hurts economic performance by reducing private investment, adversely affecting the quantity and quality of public infrastructure, reducing tax revenue, and reducing human capital accumulation. In addition to inefficiency effects—lower growth for a given endowment in factors and technology—corruption also has adverse distributional effects as it hurts the poor disproportionately. For a given level of government budget and national income, high corruption countries have lower literacy rates, higher mortality rates, and overall worse human development outcomes. Corruption deepens poverty by reducing pro-poor pubic expenditures, creating artificial shortages and congestion in public services, and inducing a policy bias in favor of capital intensity, which perpetuates unemployment. High levels of corruption in African countries constitute one of the factors behind slow growth and limited progress in poverty reduction. Eradicating corruption in African bureaucracies is a challenging task, especially because it is a systemic phenomenon with effects that often lag far behind the causes. Therefore, explicit strategies are necessary to change the incentive structure by modifying the payoffs and sanctions that govern the interactions between bureaucrats and private economic operators. Strategies to fight corruption include measures to increase transparency in the management of public resources, establishing an incentive structure that rewards honest behavior among civil servants, enforcing transparency in international contracts and equal penalties to all parties to corrupt deals, and promotion of a free and responsible media.

Suggested Citation

  • Léonce Ndikumana, 2006. "Corruption and Pro-Poor Growth Outcomes: Evidence and Lessons for African Countries," Working Papers wp120, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp120

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Benoit Falisse & Nastassia Leszczynska, 2015. "Professional Identity, Bribery and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from a Lab-in-the-Field Experiment in Burundi," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2015-07, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Rasha Hashim Osman & Constantinos Alexiou & Persefoni Tsaliki, 2012. "The role of institutions in economic development: Evidence from 27 Sub-Saharan African countries," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(2), pages 142-160, January.
    3. Léonce Ndikumana & Mina Baliamoune-Lutz, 2008. "Corruption and Growth: Exploring the Investment Channel," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2008-08, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    4. Negin, Vahideh & Abd Rashid, Zakariah & Nikopour, Hesam, 2010. "The Causal Relationship between Corruption and Poverty: A Panel Data Analysis," MPRA Paper 24871, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. King Yoong Lim, 2017. "The Dynamics of Corruption and Unemployment in a Growth Model with Heterogeneous Labour," Working Papers 198144263, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

    More about this item


    Corruption; pro-poor growth; rent-seeking; African countries;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa


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