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Four factors associated with lower corruption

Published: 26 March 2013 Updated: 19 June 2014

Sida has become better at detecting corruption in contributions. Despite this the organisation must continue to learn and develop in that area in order to contribute to the fight against corruption in partner countries.

At a meeting in the Development Talk series the nearly 200 people that attended the seminar were encouraged to change their way of thinking about corruption. Sida organized the seminar in collaboration with Transparency International - Sweden.

The degree of a country's democracy is not a measure of the level of corruption in that country. Important factors are rather impartial institutions, transparency and the level of accountability that exists. 

Bo Rothstein, professor at the Institute Quality of Government (QoG) at Gothenburg University, addressed four factors of research that shows an association with lower corruption levels.

 "Corruption is a bigger problem than we previously thought, and we must change our way of thinking about corruption. The key to prevent corruption is not democracy as statistics show that some countries with a high degree of democratization are very corrupt, explained Bo Rothstein. "

The four factors which research indicates are related to reduce corruption are:

1. An adequate tax system with relatively high taxes. The lower the tax rate is of a    country, the less people care about what the money are used for. Without taxes, people will not mobilize politically against corruption when they cannot see the resources as theirs.

2. Public and free education. Education gives knowledge and the training of general interest, which increases the chance of contributing to work against corruption.

3. Equality between men and women.

4. Recruitment to public services based on merit and not based on, for example, which party or group you belong to.

 These are factors that simultaneously send clear signals of "impartiality", i.e. that citizens are treated equally regardless of affiliation or background. Corruption is thus closely linked to the work of human rights and against discrimination, stressed Bo.

Bo brought up South Africa as an example, which has been a democracy since 1994. Since then, economic equality, life expectancy and the number of years you go to school has stagnated or declined and the maternal mortality rate has more than doubled. If the problem of corruption had been resolved with the introduction of incentives, we had solved the problem long ago. It is also not a problem  about ethical considerations in the public.

 "People are acting like others act and the ethical aspect do then not enter. For example it is difficult for a police officer in Mexico to not be a part of the corruption that exists within the Mexican police force, said Bo."

Cobus de Swardt, head of Transparency International, said that no country can fight corruption in a sustainable and long-term manner with weak institutions. In order to strengthen institutions there is a need of a daily reoccurrence of accountability and transparency, he stressed at the seminar.
Since Sweden has an open and transparent system, Cobus considered it possible to work preventive against corruption and urged Sida and Sweden to take the lead in anti-corruption. He also made a point about the importance of practicing what you teach.

 "Development begins at home and it is extremely important that what is said at home also follows up by actions overseas, said Cobus, referring to the fact that Sweden has been criticized in the Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention."

Cobus argued that one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to fight corruption is to ensure to empower and inform citizens so that they can participate in the control of corruption.

 "Corruption is a socially constructed problem and a crime against humanity and society because it involves a theft of human resources. Today we see a smaller tolerance for individuals who are not held accountable for corrupt acts. And in the future, people will demand more transparency of what is happening in public, he explained."

Cobys de Swardt, Transparency International 



Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, General Director at Sida, gave an overview of the agency’s anti-corruption work.

 " Corruption is possibly the greatest obstacle to development, said Charlotte. Since corruption is widespread in countries where Sida work, the need to create good internal procedures and provide support to our partners in their fight against corruption, is of great importance. Although Sida has become better at detecting and investigating corruption, we must continue to learn from research and experiences. What we all want to know is what really works in the fight against this problem, she concluded."

Page owner: The Communication Department

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