How would you go about diminishing corruption in third world countries?

Corruption and bribery are universal but they occur more in some places than others.

Richer countries seem to suffer less from corruption. Is poverty the single cause of it or is corruptiont a cultural thing? Or maybe there are more reasons…

So do you think it’s possible to diminish corruption in third world countries? Why or why not?

I’ve been wondering about this ever since I’ve come back to Morocco…

Quit feeding their coffers for one thing. We, along with a few other countries, only help make this a problem.

I think that it’s mostly an issue of a lack of meritocracy. People get to where they are based on family or connections of whatever, because that’s the way things are done. But when there’s no way to climb the ladder through honest means, the person who is willing to bribe off his superiors climbs. People who know they can’t get more out of life than what they are currently getting feel open to sell off whatever goodies their position offers to buyers.

Classist societies, racist societies, or places where there is a mass distrust of non-family or non-clan members will all suffer from social immobility. Trying to force these societies to have the sort of large, hierarchical organizations necessary to interact with the modern world will result in corrupt organizations.

This seems debatable. Isn’t the greatest amount of corruption likely to be where the most money is?

No. You can’t make a great deal of money with corruption.

It depends on the source of the money. If the source of income is natural resources, that’s easily nationalized and appropriated by government figures or their oligarch friends. A more balanced free market is harder to nationalize without killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

Recolonize. Create a new administration of foreigners with a ten-year mandate and establish local universities on a strict meritocracy. All intertribal/ethnic violence to be punished severely. Mandate full education for women. Encourage the return of anyone (especially anyone educated) driven into exile for political reasons. Beef up local police forces that are well-paid, with instant dismissal for any acts of brutality or corruption. Aggressive border patrols to prevent importations of weapons or supports for militias.

Essentially, cut the internal violence long enough to rebuild the educated classes and train a generation of technocrats, many of them women, to turn the country over to.

This sounds like Romer’s Charter Cities idea. The problem is that I think cultures are much harder to change than he thinks, and laying on a new set of rules will just provoke resentment. And of course the left-wing anti-West brigade would have a field day.

Remember that corruption is not usually just a bunch of kleoptomaniacs running around. Cultures that foster corruption are usually those that value family ties more strongly than social ones, and you if you ask a kleptocrat, he is likely to justify his actions by saying that he’s acting out of loyalty to his family. Obviously this biological kin selection is a hard force to work against - just imagine trying to convince Westerners not to care more about their children than about random kids.

Well, actually, we do that a lot. It’s considered an ethical breach for a government official to not recuse himself from a case involving a member of his family, and if they don’t, charges of “nepotism” get thrown around quite a bit.

You can care all you want, but using official powers to help your relative is frowned upon. Frankly, I figure that breaking of tribalism was critical to forming a functioning liberal democracy, and the various African and Asian regimes that cling to the clan over the state doom themselves to perpetual conflict.

We just hide it better. We dress it up with fancier names, and give it government-approved stamps of, er, aprroval.

And besides, if I mug an old woman for the $20 in her purse, it’s a crime and I go to jail.

If I mismanage the old woman’s pension fund into the dirt and leave her (and thousands of others) dirt-broke and destitute (even as I receive lavish million-dollar bonuses as well as a multi-million dollar “golden parachute”), I can then buy hers and others houses for pennies on the dollar, flip them for big $$$, and have a nice yacht to take my wife and kids on an extravant vacation cruise in the Bahamas. And it’s all legal.

We (third world guys I mean) should stop offering bribes freely. We have to break the circle of corruption where problems are solved that way.
Of course there is also a culture where bribes are almost expected by government officials and police officers (although it’s chaging).

I always like the phrase somebody told me. I know it’s a generalisation, but it has some truth in it.
“The difference between first and third world countries is that in the former you give bribes to do something illegal and in the latter you give them to do domething legal”.

This is a recent and probably canonical article on the subject. It is an excellent read.

On edit, Shleifer and Vishny also have a book on the subject, The Grabbing Hand.

Isn’t that just what we have been trying to do these past few years in Iraq and Afganistan? It doesn’t seem to be working too well.

Well, it can be done well, or it can be done badly.

It didn’t work out that well in the first round of colonization either.

AFAICT, corruption fosters poverty. A working system can tolerate a certain amount of cheating, but the more corruption, the less wealth overall and the less well the system will work. Put too much pressure on it, and it will break down.

I think you’ve got it the wrong way around. Corruption causes poverty. Just look at [del]Zimbabwe[/del] Africa or Mexico. And you don’t need a meritocracy for a country to be well-off. Look at Europe until about 1800.

I do not have a solution.

I don’t think that’s true. Look at China and Russia. They’re both corrupt as hell, neither country is poor in itself (though a vast number of citizens are) but there’s money galore for many people.

As for states voluntarily erasing corruption, Lee Kuan Yew erased most of the crippling corruption in the early days of Singapore. According to an elderly Singaporean I know there, this was the #1 policy back in the day - he created a body to stamp on it, and stamp on it hard. At the same time, create a standard of living for all the people that is so good that they aren’t inclined to indulge in graft. It largely worked, but for it to work, the leader had to be very strong indeed - to the point of being undemocratic - as well as unassailably idealistic.

In Hong Kong a similar policy was adopted with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which at one point lost its chairman - due to corruption. Despite this, it does a reasonable job.

I think they’d be a lot richer without corruption. Both are cases where they have an over-abundance of natural resources which compensate for the corruption. Nigeria’s similar.

How about percentage-wise?

Not to be too much of a bother, but here is a pdf of the Shleifer & Vishny article. It is neither long nor technical, but it is very good and would make a great jumping-off point for more informed discussion.