Department of Economics and Business Economics

Corruption, judicial accountability and inequality: unfair procedures may benefit the worst-off

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  • Niclas Berggren, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, University of Economics in Prague, Sweden
  • Christian Bjørnskov

We ask whether, as many seem to think, corruption worsens, and judicial accountability improves, inequality, and investigate this empirically using data from 145 countries 1960–2014. We relate perceived corruption and de facto judicial accountability to gross-income inequality and consumption inequality. The study shows that corruption is negatively, and that judicial accountability is positively, related to both types of inequality. The estimates are particularly pronounced in democracies and arguably causal in the case of consumption inequality, which we show using a novel identification method indicating that the full effect only occurs after institutional stability has been established. The findings suggest that “unfair procedures” – corruption and deviations from judicial accountability – may benefit the economically worst off and worsen the situation of the economic elite.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Pages (from-to)341-354
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

    Research areas

  • Accountability, Corruption, Inequality, Institutions, Rent-seeking

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