, Volume 121, Issue 3-4, pp 363-390

The Persistence of Corruption and Regulatory Compliance Failures: Theory and Evidence

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This paper examines the reasons whycorruption and policy distortions tend toexhibit a high degree of persistence incertain regimes. We identify circumstancesunder which a firm seeks to evaderegulations through (i) bribery of localinspectors, and (ii) by lobbying high-levelgovernment politicians to resist legalreforms designed to improve judicialefficiency (rule of law) and eliminatecorruption. We show that in some casespolitical instability reinforces thesetendencies. The analysis predicts that inpolitically unstable regimes, theinstitutions necessary to monitor andenforce compliance are weak. In suchcountries, corruption therefore is morepervasive, and the compliance withregulations is low. We test thesepredictions using cross-country data. Theempirical results support the predictionsof the model. Political instability reducesjudicial efficiency, which in turnstimulates corruption. Thus, the effect ofpolitical instability on corruption is notdirect, but occurs indirectly via itseffect on the degree of judicialefficiency. Finally, corruption lowers thelevel of regulatory compliance. Thus,political instability indirectly affects compliance, via judicial efficiency andcorruption.