Visualization of narrower problems
Dependence on corruption
Corrupt people
Defence against corruption
Institutionalized corruption
Systemic corruption
Corruption is a debasement or subversion of integrity or purity and may occur in ideology or personal morality, culture, commerce, civil service (including police) or in politics. It constitutes a barrier to progress, and promotes conflict as a result of frustration and alienation; instability as a result of apathy; violence and crime. It may lead to social, ethnic, political, national and ideological disintegration and possibly revolution.

Corruption feeds on itself. People involved in the petty corruption become increasingly involved in more and larger amounts. Corruption has many victims. Public corruption offenses affect all citizens directly and personally, particularly those at th lower end of the income scale. Building inspectors paid small amounts of money to approve shoddy work results in dangerous construction, substandard electrical wiring, and inferior building materials, usually in the poorest areas of town. Judges and lawyers who line their pockets result in criminals set free to victimize citizens. Taxpayers pay for corruption. When officials are bribed to award construction contracts the cost of the bribe goes into the cost of the construction often with interest. In a corrupt system, good people avoid public service. Honest contractors refuse to bid on government contracts; honest lawyers refuse to become prosecutors or judges; honest citizens avoid participating in politics either as voters or candidates.

Corruption has been highly detrimental for development. It introduces an element of irrationality in all planning and plan implementation by distorting the actual course of development plans. A common method of exploiting a position of public responsibility for private gain is the threat of obstruction and delay; hence corruption impedes the processes of decision-making and execution at all levels. It increases the need for controls to check the dishonest official. Thus it tends to make administration cumbersome and slow, and prohibits rational delegation of authority. Corruption and the widespread knowledge of corruption counteract the strivings for national consolidation and in particular, decrease respect for and allegiance to the government.

In its most evident form, corruption affects dealings of the public with government bureaucracy and political hierarchies whereby money or favour is given in exchange for a benefit from the official. This extends to dealings between business enterprises and the bureaucracy and politicians. But corruption may also affect any transactions, notably with or between businesses, even where no governmental or political body is involved. In its simplest form corruption consists mainly of bribery and tipping. Generally bribes are negotiated payments made before a transaction, whereas tips, reflecting gratitude are paid afterwards based on the evaluation of the donor with regard to short-term and long-term interest in the relationship.

It is only since the end of the 1980s that the level of corruption in industrialized countries has been recognized as being represented by more than isolated instances, or more characteristic of particular countries. The end of the Cold War had the effect of shifting priorities permitting discussion of new constraints on social progress. The relative level of corruption in developing countries is difficult to assess with any certainty. It is however much higher than in the developed countries and notably in some African countries where economic advances are hindered by debilitating corruption. Developing countries have difficulty in introducing rational and ethical profit motives and market behaviour into the business sector and in eliminating motives of private gain from the government sector. Time, and frequent political upheavals in such countries, have afforded greater and greater opportunities for corruption, particularly large-scale graft by politicians and higher officials, but spreading downward to petty bribery. It is alleged that grants in aid of development have often been dissipated in large-scale corruption. But the implication that open markets and free trade might offer a way out of the poverty trap in developing countries has increasingly focused attention on the need to apply clear-cut rules where previously bribes and patronage were used.

The scandal surrounding funding of arms to Iraq is the first global political scandal. The leaders of three major nations (Italy, UK, USA) were implicated in a criminal conspiracy: to misuse funds of taxpayers and public agencies in clandestine support for a dictator; to abuse the intelligence and banking services of their countries to conceal their initiative; and to obstruct the course of justice in clarifying the matter.

[Brazil] Surveys in 1993 showed that the public was more concerned with corruption than with the country's hyperinflation and recession.

[Egypt] In 1993 the country was faced with severe pressures from fundamentalists critical of the level of corruption in society as exemplified by scandals in top administrative and judicial circles. Non-fundamentalists argued for fundamental constitutional and political reform. Rampant corruption widened the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged and exacerbated political tensions.

[France] Although the 1990s have seen numerous scandals reported in detail in the media concerning party financing and police and judicial manipulation, few of those involved have ever been effectively prosecuted.

[Hong Kong] Documents declassified in 1993 indicated that it was only through bribery and corruption that the UK was able to resecure possession of the territory at the end of World War II.

[Iran] In 1994 corruption was considered to be widespread with bribery and rake-offs at all levels of society.

[Italy] Until the 1990s the courts had given up on any effort to vigorously prosecute politicians for crimes of corruption. Many politicians even argued that for all practical purposes all laws against corruption and clandestine financing of parties had been abrogated. By 1993 some 2,500 public figures, including leaders of the industrial, financial and political worlds had been placed under investigation as part of the "Clean Hands" operation that implicated a number of former prime ministers. Political efforts at cabinet level were made to amnesty all the politicians implicated. The population came to discover that the pattern of kickbacks and bribery was effectively central to the way in which the society was governed and which had enabled it to prosper with relatively little social disruption since World War II. It was estimated that hundreds of thousands lived well from corruption and the associated system of patronage. In southern Italy people effectively had no rights, only privileges acquired by paying a politician in cash or with a vote. In 1993 it was estimated that the various forms of bribery, whether criminal, legal or administrative, amounted to some £1.25 billion per year for all levels of society.

[Japan] The major financial and political scandals of the 1991-94 period reinforced recognition that corruption was never far from the surface of a society which relied heavily on blatant power-broking through networks of relationships independent of any formal structure. It became clear that the elected leaders of the political system were effectively dominated by the needs and wishes of the corporate sector and its abhorrence of change to that pattern. The pattern of corruption extended to the biggest religious groups which had allegedly, according to its lay affiliates, become implicated in tax evasion and other scandals.

[Russia] The president of the constitutional court in 1993 claimed that corruption had taken on such a scale that the country had to be seen as a corrupt and criminal state.

[South Korea] In 1993 the new president indicated that he was astounded to discover how deeply corruption had embedded itself in government and society; he suggested that his predecessor had ignored overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, including very large unexplained deposits in the accounts of senior government officials. Over 1,000 officials had been arrested or sanctioned; 19 generals and admirals were forced into retirement.

[Thailand] Widespread disdain for the unprecedented level of corruption in government and society led to a military coup in 1992.

[Venezuela] The perception that corruption had long considered been endemic in the country was reinforced by the supreme court accusations against the president in 1993 and the popular pressure to act on those accusations rather than set them aside as on previous occasions.

1. Corruption is a significant impediment to development around the world. Democratization in areas such as Africa cannot hope to be achieved without first addressing the corruption issue.

2. Much of the ills of the world as a community can be traced to growing public corruption. This has apparently become the means as well as the ends of political power today.

3. Corruption is rampant in most developing countries and is growing, particularly among higher officials and politicians, including legislators and ministers. It is present in government purchasing agencies, offices issuing import licences and other permits and among those responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes and customs duties. It has also spread to the courts of justice and to the universities. The business world and organized crime are particularly active in promoting commerce-related corrupt practices among politicians and higher officials. < 4. Corruption does not only weaken government and undermine social discipline at all levels. It is also a mechanism by which inequalities are created and increased.

5. Corruption eats away at the foundations of trust between people and their rulers. It exemplifies the two key weaknesses of the developing state: the system whereby money buys influence and power attracts money; and the inability of the state to supply and enforce its own laws and regulations. It is therefore a symptom of government incompetence which further undermines the ability of government to rule.

There is a difference between Asian-style corruption and its African equivalent. In Asia, the corruption has not been as debilitating to economic growth, rather corruption and growth seemed to have developed in parallel.
(B) Basic universal problems