Academics and policymakers recognize that there are serious costs associated with systemic corruption. Stubbornly, many countries or regions remain stuck in a high-corruption equilibrium-a corruption trap. Most existing theories concentrate on mutually reinforcing expectations of corrupt behavior among a fixed set of bureaucrats or politicians, implying that changing such expectations can lead to lower corruption. We develop models that more fully characterize the political nature of corruption traps by also analyzing the behavior of voters and entrants to politics, as well their interaction with incumbent politicians. We show that corruption traps can arise through strategic behavior of each set of actors, as well as through their interrelations. By linking politician, voter, and entrant behavior, we provide an explanation for why simply trying to change expectations among one set of actors is likely insufficient for eliminating corruption traps.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations