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Advanced Introduction to Law and Development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado

This book offers a concise and accessible introduction to the main themes and debates in the field of law and development. It unpacks the role of legal systems and institutions, and investigates what kinds of law and legal arrangements are perceived (correctly or not) to encourage and facilitate development.
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10 Corruption and development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado


Corruption affects most countries around the world but the problem is especially acute, and indeed pervasive, in many developing countries. The cost of corruption is high for developing countries, because it has a negative impact on a country’s economy (impairing growth), its politics (affecting governmental regulation and policy decisions), its international relations (affecting FDI and diverting foreign aid from its intended purposes), and its society (worsening the distribution of wealth). The World Bank has identified “corruption as among the greatest obstacles to economic and social development”.1

Although there are many definitions of corruption, we use the term to refer to “the use of public office for private gain” – that is, corruption of or by public officials (political or bureaucratic).2 This includes both “behaviour which deviates from the normal duties of a public role”,3 and “the violation of the formal rules governing the allocation of public resources”.4 However, in some countries there may be a lack of formal rules governing official behaviour, or the normal duties of an official may include behaviour that would qualify as corruption in other countries, such as accepting gifts. This complicates comparison between countries.5

Generally, corruption entails an “exchange of government property for personal gain”.6 More often than not, economic gains are the goal of corrupt behaviour, but the term can also encompass the use of public office to obtain non-economic gains (political or personal). Although corruption comes in many forms, the common element is that an...

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