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Does expenditure in public governance guarantee less corruption? Non-linearities and complementarities of the rule of law

Omar A. Guerrero () and Gonzalo Castañeda
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Omar A. Guerrero: University College London
Gonzalo Castañeda: Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE)

Economics of Governance, 2021, vol. 22, issue 2, No 3, 139-164

Abstract: Abstract Corruption is an endemic societal problem with profound implications in the development of nations. In combating this issue, cross-national evidence supporting the effectiveness of the rule of law seems at odds with poorly realized outcomes from reforms inspired in the academic literature. This paper provides an explanation for such contradiction. By building a computational approach, we develop three methodological novelties into the empirical study of corruption: (1) modeling government expenditure as a more adequate intervention variable than traditional indicators, (2) generating large within-country variation by means of bottom-up simulations (instead of cross-national data pooling), and (2) accounting for all possible interactions between covariates through a spillover network. Our estimates suggest that, the least developed a country is, the more difficult it is to find the right combination of policies that lead to reductions in corruption. We characterize this difficulty through a rugged landscape that governments navigate when changing the total budget size and the relative expenditure towards the rule of law. Importantly our method helps identifying the—country-specific—policy issues that complement the rule of law in the fight against corruption.

Keywords: Corruption; Rule of law; Development; Public expenditure; Agent-based model; Computational (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10101-021-00252-z

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