IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Corruption: Political Determinants and Macroeconomic Effects


  • Christian R. Ahlin

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt Unversity)


Two aspects of corruption are examined theoretically: its effect on macroeconomic variables, and its determination from the political environment. Corruption is defined in an occupational choice model as the extra fees or bribes that must be paid by some entrepreneurs. Even in an environment of perfect information and well-defined property rights, wages and total output decrease with the level of corruption. Inverted-U relationships of income inequality with both corruption and output are calculated. Second, two types of decentralization, regional and bureaucratic, are analyzed. The effects depend crucially on agents' mobility across regions. Under imperfect mobility assumptions, corruption decreases with regional decentralization and increases with bureaucratic decentralization. Two methods of controlling corruption are analyzed in this setting: democratic accountability and incentive payments. The same factor that makes bureaucratic decentralization more corrupt makes it more resistant to efforts to rein in corruption; the reverse is true for regional decentralization. This model matches emerging stylized facts relating corruption to output, inequality, and decentralization, and reinterprets findings linking bureaucratic wage levels and corruption.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian R. Ahlin, 2001. "Corruption: Political Determinants and Macroeconomic Effects," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0126, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0126

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Revised version, 2001
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 1995. "Trade blocs, currency blocs and the reorientation of world trade in the 1930s," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 1-24, February.
    2. Raynold, Prosper & A. Dunlevy, James, 1998. "Aggregate Shocks and the Relationship between U.S. Business Cycle Fluctuations and Export Performance," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 13, pages 163-198.
    3. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-481, August.
    4. Dunlevy, James A, 1980. "A Test of the Capacity Pressure Hypothesis within a Simultaneous Equations Model of Export Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(1), pages 131-135, February.
    5. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1989. "The Generalized Gravity Equation, Monopolistic Competition, and the Factor-Proportions Theory in International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 143-153, February.
    6. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1990. "The Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson Model, the Linder Hypothesis and the Determinants of Bilateral Intra-industry Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1216-1229, December.
    7. Gould, David M, 1994. "Immigrant Links to the Home Country: Empirical Implications for U.S. Bilateral Trade Flows," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 302-316, May.
    8. Keith Head & John Ries, 1998. "Immigration and Trade Creation: Econometric Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 47-62, February.
    9. Haveman, J. & Hummels, D., 1997. "What Can We Learn from Bilateral Trade? Gravity and Beyond," Papers 97-002, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
    10. Dunlevy, James A. & Hutchinson, William K., 1999. "The Impact of Immigration on American Import Trade in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 1043-1062, December.
    11. Irwin, Douglas A, 1996. "The United States in a New Global Economy? A Century's Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 41-46, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Anwar Shah, 2014. "Decentralized Provision of Public Infrastructure and Corruption," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1418, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    2. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Corruption and Decentralized Public Governance," Chapters,in: Handbook of Fiscal Federalism, chapter 19 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Marius Constantin PROFIROIU & Septimiu Rares SZABO, 2016. "Outsourcing vs decentralisation: A comparative analysis in Central and Eastern Europe," Eco-Economics Review, Ecological University of Bucharest, Economics Faculty and Ecology and Environmental Protection Faculty, pages 3-26.

    More about this item


    Corruption; decentralization; electoral accountability; optimal wage policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


    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:van:wpaper:0126. 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: (John P. Conley) or (Marina Grazioli). 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.