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Two faces of the same coin? A comparative, global approach to corruption and socioeconomic development


The present study investigates the economic, social and political dimensions of development worldwide focusing on the relationship between perceived corruption and income levels, human development, government effectiveness and quality of the political system. The empirical results of this study reveal that these aspects are partly correlated, and feedback relationships are important when assessing socioeconomic development in a comparative perspective. Specific combinations of these factors characterize stable clusters of countries with distinctive economic performances. Effective developmental strategies require measures aimed at boosting income, reducing corruption and stimulating human development and government effectiveness. Empirical results of our analysis also suggest that these strategies are sustainable in the long-run only when associated with institutional transformations, enhancing governance quality. With unstable democracy and ineffective government, socioeconomic development cannot be effectively achieved and maintained on a long-run basis, even under increasing levels of income and wealth. With corruption, wealth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for socioeconomic development.

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Appendix 1

See Table 4.

Table 4 Countries’ scores of a composite index of corruption corrected for the socioeconomic background conditions by computation methodology (countries are ordered by avg.rank rule; lowest scores indicate low corruption in a context of high development)

Appendix 2

See Table 5.

Table 5 Frequency of countries’ rankings by decile and aggregation method

Appendix 3

See Fig. 1.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Quantile plots for the intercept and individual predictors

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Rontos, K., Vavouras, I., Ciommi, M.T. et al. Two faces of the same coin? A comparative, global approach to corruption and socioeconomic development. Qual Quant 53, 1875–1894 (2019).

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  • Human development
  • Government effectiveness
  • Political system
  • Global economic dynamics