Economics of corruption

Economics of corruption applies economic tools to the analysis of corruption. Rigorous study of corruption by economists commenced in the 1980s.

History of the discipline

In 1968, Nobel laureate economist Gunnar Myrdal found corruption 'almost a taboo (among economists) as research topic'. Indeed, it has mostly been a matter of political science and sociology. However, the scenario changed since the 1970s. Since Rose-Ackerman's article "The Economics of Corruption", published in the Journal of Public Economics in 1975,[1] more than 3,000 articles have been written with 'corruption' in the title, at least 500 of which directly focus on different aspects relating to corruption using an economic framework.[2] Some books have also been published on the subject.[3]

Organizations have emerged to deal with the economics of corruption.[4] Some universities offer courses under the title Economics of Corruption.[5] Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker and an American Judge Richard Posner have opened a blog for open public discussion discussing economics of corruption [6]

Books on economics of corruption

Some books have been produced with the specific title of "economics of corruption". One of these is The Economics of Corruption edited by Ajit Mishra published by the Oxford University Press in 2005. This book is an anthology of 11 essays under 4 categories, written by 16 economists. The titles of the essays give an idea of the various approaches taken by different economists. They are quoted below :

One can observe that the essays do not capture corruption in all its economic essence. Hundreds of essays have been published during the last two decades that deal with many more aspects of corruption from an economic perspective. Some other books are :

Courses on economics of corruption

Some universities and institutions including the University of Regina in Canada, Florida State University in the United States and the University of Passau in Germany have started to offer courses on economics of corruption.[7] Additionally, the University of Rochester offers a course related to the history of economic corruption. One of the course outline is given below. The course is offered by New Economic School, an institution in Russia.[8] The course includes 14 lectures, the themes of which are as follows.

Evidently, the course has limited focus and in many ways do not directly address relevant areas of corruption which have already been analyzed from an economic perspective.

Approaches to economic analyses of corruption

As indicated above, a systematic pattern in research on corruption from economic perspective is yet to emerge. However, Ananish Chaudhuri has classified the foci of economic analyses of corruption into fourteen broad categories.[9] These are:


  1. Rose-Ackerman S. : "The Economics of Corruption", Journal of Political Economy, Vol. IV, 1975, pp. 187-203.
  2. JSTOR search on 8 March 2008
  3. The Economics of Corruption, edited by Ajit Mishra, 2005 : Oxford University Press
  4. Internet Centre for Corruption Research
  5. Economics of Corruption 2008
  6. The Becker-Posner Blog
  7. University of Passau, Germany
  8. Economics of Corruption
  9. Faizul Latif Chowdhury, "Economic Approaches in Corruption Studies", Fiscal Frontiers, 2008, Dhaka.
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