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Corruption and economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean

Lucas Dutra de Paulo, Ricardo Andrade Lima () and Robson Tigre

Review of Development Economics, 2022, vol. 26, issue 2, 756-773

Abstract: In this paper, we investigate the effect of corruption on the economic development of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Using panel data covering the period from 2000 to 2018 and leveraging on two‐way fixed‐effect and system generalized method of moments estimators, we show that a one standard deviation increase in corruption, as measured by the reversed Transparency International's corruption perception index, is associated with a decrease of 12.2% in gross domestic product per capita and a decrease of 3.05% in economic growth. This supports the view that corruption “sands the wheels” of the development of Latin American and Caribbean countries rather than “grease the wheels” perspective that corruption may help compensate for bad governance. We also assess the potential mechanisms through which corruption affects economic performance, providing evidence that corruption is associated with lower investment in physical capital and lower foreign investment flow. Finally, a panel Granger causality test indicates a bidirectional causality between higher corruption and lower economic development.

Date: 2022
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