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Economic Reform and Corruption: Evidence from Panel Data

Mustafa Kamal, Ebney Ayaj Rana and Abu N. M. Wahid

Australian Economic Papers, 2018, vol. 57, issue 1, 92-106

Abstract: The notion that economic reform can reduce corruption remains prevalent in the policy agenda of international financial institutions, especially of the World Bank. Economic reforms have, therefore, been carried out throughout various parts of the world to improve the performance of the economies. Using data from 94 low†and middle†income nations for the period 1996–2015, this study employs static and dynamic panel analysis to examine whether economic reform undertaken in accordance with the World Bank's reform programs negatively affects corruption. Our findings suggest that enhancing government effectiveness (i.e. independence of civil service from political pressure, provision of quality public services, effective policy formulation and the government's commitment to such policies) and improving public rights and civil liberties could be some of the most promising policies in terms of fighting corruption. The role of economic development and growth in real per capita income is also found to be significant in some of the specifications. However, the assertion that economic reform can reduce corruption is rejected in all the specifications. We rather find evidence that economic reforms negatively affect the ability of democracy to fight corruption, although on a slim margin. The central theme of the implications of our findings is that in combating corruption, social, institutional and legal means are far more important than economic means. The finding thus is compatible with the World Bank's effort in the later years to introduce governance and democracy as effective tool against corruption.

Date: 2018
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