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Political Corruption: Strategies for Reform

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This article argues that the worldwide trend towards democracy and the free market will help reduce corruption. The author postulates that competition and accountability - seen as features of democracy- will help reduce and fight against corruption. The author’s approach to countering political corruption begins by distinguishing between the various types of corruption, and by highlighting the structural failures of information and incentives (rather than the moral failures of individuals) as a way of addressing cases of corruption at both the policymaking and institutional levels. The author suggests suspending the usual terms of discourse about corruption (for instance, that it is an ethical or a legal problem, or one that requires a change of mentality) towards recognizing that a culture of corruption and rent seeking is part of the issues to be addressed. In this sense, the author suggests reshaping economic incentives that might encourage corruption towards making corruption less attractive. The paper lists five categories through which corruption can be controlled: the selection and training of agents; the incentives facing agents and clients; information gathering on the agents and clients; the restructuring of the agent-client relationship; and raising the moral costs of corruption.

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Journal of Democracy