Corruption flouts rules of fairness and gives some people advantages that others don’t have. Corruption is persistent; there is little evidence that countries can escape the curse of corruption easily–or at all. Instead of focusing on institutional reform, Uslaner suggests that the roots of corruption lie in economic and legal inequality and low levels of generalized trust (which are not readily changed) and poor policy choices (which may be more likely to change). Economic inequality provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption–and, in turn, it leads to further inequalities. Just as corruption is persistent, inequality and trust do not change much over time in my cross-national aggregate analyses. Uslaner argues that high inequality leads to low trust and high corruption, and then to more inequality—an inequality trap and identifies direct linkages between inequality and trust in surveys of the mass public and elites in transition countries.
Eric M. Uslaner is Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland–College Park, where he has taught since 1975. He has written seven books including The Moral Foundations of Trust (Cambridge University Press, 2002), and The Decline of Comity in Congress (University of Michigan Press, 1993). In 1981-82 he was Fulbright Professor of American Studies and Political Science at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel and in 2005, he was a Fulbright Senior Specialist Lecturer at Novosibirsk State Technical University, Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. In 2006 he was appointed the first Senior Research Fellow at the Center for American Law and Political Science at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, Chongqing, China.
1. Corruption: the basic story; 2. Corruption and the inequality trap; 3. Corruption, inequality, and trust: the linkages across nations; 4. Transition and the road to the inequality trap; 5. The rocky road to transition: the case of Romania; 6. Half empty or almost full? Mass and elite perceptions of corruption in Estonia, Slovakia, and Romania; 7. The easy and hard cases: Africa and Singapore and Hong Kong; 8. Corruption isn't inevitable, but; 9. Conclusions.
“One cannot help but be impressed by the scope of quantitative econometric analysis presented, both within the text and in the appendices. . . . the presence of such analysis is a clear and bold merit of the book. Indeed, it makes it an unparalleled source of information to which a graduate student or a scholar may turn not just for excellent analytical points, but for the results of data analysis as well.”
– Ararat L. Osipian, Demokratizatsiya
"Eric M. Uslaner presents a statistical but nuanced take on corruption across nations and political groupings...Uslaner makes an effective and well-supported argument."
International Law and Politics, April Gu