The Roots of Corruption: The Roots of Corruption: Mass Education, Economic Inequality and State Building

42 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2012 Last revised: 22 Aug 2017

See all articles by Bo Rothstein

Bo Rothstein

University of Gothenburg

Eric M. Uslaner

University of Maryland, College Park; Institute for Corruption Studies

Date Written: 2012 07, 31

Abstract

The roots of corruption are highly contested. We argue that there is a path dependence across almost a century and a half and present five theoretical arguments for the existence of a causal mechanism between universal education and control of corruption. We show a powerful statistical link between education levels in 1870 and corruption levels in 2010 for 78 countries, a relationship that remains strong even when controlling for change in the level of education, gross national product per capita, and democratic governance. Regime type is generally not significant. We then trace early education to levels of economic equality in the late 19th and early 21st centuries — and argue that societies with more equality educated more of their citizens, which then gave their citizens more opportunities and power, reducing corruption. We present historical evidence from Europe and Spanish, British, and French colonies that strong states provided more education to their publics — and that such states were themselves more common where economic disparities were smaller.

Keywords: Anti-Corruption, Institutions, Corruption, Education, State Building, Inequality

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Bo and Uslaner, Eric M., The Roots of Corruption: The Roots of Corruption: Mass Education, Economic Inequality and State Building (2012 07, 31). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2108795

Bo Rothstein (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, SE 40530
Sweden
+46317864599 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/Person.asp?PersonId=82

Eric M. Uslaner

University of Maryland, College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
+1301 405 4151 (Phone)
+1301 314 9690 (Fax)

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

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