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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Does democracy reduce corruption and improve quality of government? While the corruption-reducing effect of democracy may be seemingly self-evident in light of theoretical expectations, a wealth of empirical literature suggests that democracy is not always as effective as theories predict. Studies consistently demonstrate that newly democratized countries exhibit, on average, higher levels of corruption than more established democracies but also than some autocracies. This chapter takes stock of recent advances in efforts to understand how, whether, and when democracy contributes to weeding out corrupt leaders and government corruption more generally. While research has made notable advances, we suggest that a closer examination of the underlying theory of change and assumptions upon which the beneficial effects of democracy rest can identify new ways forward. We point to a need for greater attention to how, for example, state capacity, transparency, and experiences with different forms of corruption influence civic and electoral engagement against corruption.

Keywords: democracy, corruption, transparency, state capacity, types of corruption, illiberal democracy, freedom of expression and association, civic engagement, corruption voting, institutional sequencing

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