Corruption and Health expenditure: A Cross-National Analysis on Infant and Child Mortality

  • Jamie M. SommerEmail author
Original Article


How does corruption impact a nation’s capacity for well-being? Expanding government services and funding for health may not be effective at increasing well-being if corruption is rampant in government authorities. Therefore, both petty and grand corruption in different government bodies have the potential to greatly decrease the effectiveness of health expenditure at improving infant and child health, yet this relationship is understudied in the cross-national literature. Using two-way fixed effects models for a sample of 90 low- and middle-income nations from 1996 to 2012, I examine how the interaction between corruption in the executive and public sector and health expenditure impact infant and child mortality. The findings reveal the importance of controlling for corruption in improving the development effectiveness of health expenditure. In short, while states must have the fiscal capacity to generate enough funds for health expenditure, they must also reduce grand and petty corruption in the executive and public sectors to reduce infant and child mortality.


Corruption Health expenditure Child and infant health Cross-national 


Quel est l’impact de la corruption sur la capacité d’une nation à se sentir bien? L’expansion des services publics et du financement de la santé peut ne pas être efficace pour l’amélioration du bien-être si la corruption est généralisée au sein des autorités publiques. Par conséquent, petite et grande corruption au sein de différents organes gouvernementaux peuvent toutes deux réduire considérablement l’efficacité des dépenses de santé sur l’amélioration de la santé des nourrissons et des enfants. Pourtant, cette relation est sous-estimée dans la littérature transnationale. À l’aide de modèles bidirectionnels à effets fixes sur un échantillon de 90 pays à revenu faible et intermédiaire de 1996 à 2012, j’étudie comment l’interaction entre la corruption au sein de la classe dirigeante et du secteur public, et les dépenses de santé, a un impact sur la mortalité infantile et juvénile. Les résultats révèlent qu’il est important de lutter contre la corruption pour améliorer le potentiel de développement des dépenses de santé. En bref, si les États doivent avoir la capacité fiscale de générer suffisamment de fonds pour les dépenses de santé, ils doivent également réduire la grande et la petite corruption au sein de la classe dirigeante et dans le secteur public afin de réduire la mortalité infantile et juvénile.



I would like to thank John M. Shandra for his support and comments on previous manuscripts. I would also like to thank Ian Roxborough, Kathleen Fallon, and Andrew Hargrove for their feedback on previous manuscripts.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author has no known conflicts of interests to report.


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© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of South Florida (USF)TampaUSA

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