Democracy and Corruption: A Global Time-Series Analysis with V-Dem Data

38 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017

See all articles by Kelly M. McMann

Kelly M. McMann

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Political Science; Göteborg University - V-Dem Institute

Brigitte Seim

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

Theory predicts democracy should reduce corruption. Yet, numerous scholars have found empirically that corruption decreases at high levels of democracy but actually increases at low levels. A key weaknesses of studies that aim to explain this inverted curvilinear relationship, however, is that they do not disaggregate the complex concept of democracy. By contrast, this working paper disaggregates democracy theoretically and empirically. Our theoretical framework shows how components of democracy affect costs and benefits of engaging in corruption and, therefore, the level of corruption overall. Whereas other studies examine only how democratic accountability imposes costs on those engaging in corruption and thus illuminate only the downward curve of the relationship, we also examine the transaction costs and political support benefits of corruption and therefore can explain the initial uptick in corruption at low levels of democracy. Using measures of democratic components from Varieties of Democracy, we examine 173 countries from 1900 to 2012 and find that freedoms of expression and association exhibit the inverted curvilinear relationship with corruption, and that judicial constraints have a negative linear relationship. Moreover, the introduction of elections and the quality of elections act jointly, but each in a linear fashion. The mere introduction of elections increases corruption, thus accounting for the upward sloping segment of the inverted curve. Once the quality of elections begins to improve, corruption decreases, resulting in the downward-sloping segment of the curve.

Suggested Citation

McMann, Kelly M. and Seim, Brigitte and Teorell, Jan and Lindberg, Staffan I., Democracy and Corruption: A Global Time-Series Analysis with V-Dem Data (March 2017). V-Dem Working Paper 2017:43. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2941979

Kelly M. McMann (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Political Science ( email )

11201 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106
United States

Göteborg University - V-Dem Institute ( email )

United States

Brigitte Seim

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
United States

Jan Teorell

Lund University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Department of Political Science
Box 52
Lund, SE 40530
Sweden

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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