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Inflation, Inflation Variability, and Corruption

Miguel Braun and Rafael Di Tella

Economics and Politics, 2004, vol. 16, issue 1, 77-100

Abstract: We present a model where agents can inflate the cost of goods needed to start an investment project and inflation variability increases monitoring costs. We show that inflation variability can lead to higher corruption and lower investment. We document a positive relationship between corruption and inflation variability in a sample of 75 countries. The effect is robust to the inclusion of country fixed effects, other controls, and 2SLS estimation. The results are economically significant: a one standard deviation increase in inflation variance from the median increases corruption by 12 percent of a standard deviation and reduces growth by 0.33 percentage points. Our paper highlights a new channel through which inflation reduces investment and growth, thus bridging the perception gap over the costs of inflation between economists and the public. We also find evidence that political competition reduces corruption and that corruption is pro‐cyclical.

Date: 2004
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https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0343.2004.00132.x

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