Economics of Governance

, 10:187 | Cite as

Growth, public investment and corruption with failing institutions

  • David de la CroixEmail author
  • Clara Delavallade
Original Paper


Corruption is thought to prevent poor countries from catching up with richer ones. We analyze one channel through which corruption hampers growth: public investment can be distorted in favor of specific types of spending for which rent-seeking is easier and better concealed. To study this distortion, we propose a dynamic model where households vote for the composition of public spending, subject to an incentive constraint reflecting individuals’ choice between productive activity and rent-seeking. In equilibrium, the structure of public investment is determined by the predatory technology and the distribution of political power. Among different regimes, the model shows a possible scenario of distortion without corruption in which there is no effective corruption but the possibility of corruption still distorts the allocation of public investment. We test the implications of the model on a set of countries using a two-stage least squares estimation. We find that developing countries with high predatory technology invest more in housing and physical capital in comparison with health and education. The reverse is true for developed countries.


Public investment Corruption Political power 

JEL Classification

O41 H50 D73 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and COREUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.J-PAL South AsiaChennaiIndia

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