Exploiting the Poor: Bureaucratic Corruption and Poverty in Africa

Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 139

33 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2012

See all articles by Mogens K. Justesen

Mogens K. Justesen

Copenhagen Business School

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Center for Political Studies; Institute for Corruption Studies

Date Written: October 29, 2012

Abstract

Corruption is a major source of slow development in Africa – the poorest region of the world. While extant research has focused on the causes and consequences of corruption at the macro-level, less effort has been devoted to understanding the micro-foundation of corruption, as well as the mechanisms through which poverty may be related to corruption and bribery. In this paper, we develop a simple model of the relationship between poverty and corruption. The model suggests that poor people are more likely to be victims of corrupt behavior by street-level government bureaucrats. Poor people often rely heavily on services provided by governments and are therefore more likely to be met by demands for bribes in return for obtaining those services. We test this proposition using micro-level survey data from the Afrobarometer. Since individuals are surveyed in different countries, we use multilevel regressions to estimate the effect of poverty on people’s experience with paying bribes. The results show that poor people are indeed much more prone to pay bribes to government officials. This suggests that the people who are worst off materially are also more likely to be victims of corruption.

Keywords: bribery, corruption, poverty, Africa, political economy

JEL Classification: D73, H1, K4, P16

Suggested Citation

Justesen, Mogens K. and Bjørnskov, Christian, Exploiting the Poor: Bureaucratic Corruption and Poverty in Africa (October 29, 2012). Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 139, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2168119 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2168119

Mogens K. Justesen (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Department of Business and Politics
Porcelænshaven 1
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V, DK-8210
Denmark

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Center for Political Studies

Landgreven 3
Copenhagen K, DK-1301
Denmark

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

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