PerspectiveEconomics

How to fight corruption

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Science  26 May 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6340, pp. 803-804
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0815

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Summary

Anticorruption initiatives are often put forth as solutions to problems of waste and inefficiency in government programs. It's easy to see why. So often, somewhere along the chain that links the many participants in public service provision or other government activities, funds may get stolen or misdirected, bribes exchanged for preferential treatment, or genuine consumers of public services supplemented by “ghost” users. As a result, corruption reduces economic growth and leaves citizens disillusioned and distrustful of government (1). It is tempting to think that more monitoring, stricter sanctions, or positive inducements for suitable behavior will reduce corruption. But every anticorruption or antifraud program elicits a strategic response by those who orchestrated and benefited from wrongdoing in the first place. How can these unintended consequences be anticipated and avoided?