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Are larger countries really more corrupt?

  • Knack, Stephen
  • Azfar, Omar

Several authors claim to provide evidence that government corruption is less severe in small than in large countries. The authors demonstrate that this relationship is an artifact of sample selection. Most corruption indicators provide ratings only for the countries in which multi-national investors have the greatest interest. These tend to include almost all large nations but, among small nations, only those that are well governed. The authors find that the relationship between corruption and country size disappears when one uses either a new corruption indicator with substantially increased country coverage or an alternative corruption indicator that covers all World Bank borrowers without regard to country size. They also show that the relationship between corruption and trade intensity--a variable strongly related to population--disappears when samples less subject to selection bias are used.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2470.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2470
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  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:83-116 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Aggregating governance indicators," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2195, The World Bank.
  3. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  4. 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.
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1027-56 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  7. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," Scholarly Articles 4553029, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2000. "Decentralization and corruption - evidence across countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2290, The World Bank.
  9. Easterly, William & Kraay, Aart, 2000. "Small States, Small Problems? Income, Growth, and Volatility in Small States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 2013-2027, November.
  10. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
  11. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto, 1999. "Is Europe Going Too Far?," Scholarly Articles 4553012, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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