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The European Union and Beyond

The Different Faces of Corruption in Developing and Developed Areas

Civil Society
Comparative Politics
Tina Hilgers
Concordia University
Tina Hilgers
Concordia University


It is often taken for granted that politics in developing countries is more corrupt than that in developed areas. But, corruption does not disappear as societies develop and modernize; it coalesces at different levels of activity. While it appears at various levels and in numerous forms in developing countries (vote-buying among the public and in legislatures, clientelism, patronage, slush-funds, etc.), it is less a phenomenon of the mass public in developed countries. Here, the political and business classes engage in activities such as collusion and wholesale vote-buying (large campaign donors buying off candidates and, thereby, buying all of the candidate's voters). This paper argues that the corruption present in developing areas is qualitatively - but not necessarily quantitatively - different from that in the developed world and that a tipping point including education, independent economic opportunities, and type of political competition generates a shift from the former to the latter.
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