What are the costs of corruption?

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World leaders frequently cite figures for the global cost of corruption to raise awareness and promote anticorruption action. A popular estimate is that more than $2.6 trillion, or 5% of global GDP, is lost to corruption annually around the world.

The methodological soundness and usefulness of such estimates of the global costs of corruption have been called into question by prominent voices in the anticorruption community. A review of the most cited global corruption statistics found that all of them rest on fragile foundations and therefore concluded that their use in high-level speeches and reports should be avoided.

While there are no credible estimates of the global cost of corruption, corruption research has provided ample empirical evidence that it is associated with a range of negative outcomes , and severely hampers inclusive and sustainable development.

Given the negative consequences of corruption, it remains urgent to raise awareness and incentivize collective action to improve control of corruption. The World Bank reached out to experienced anticorruption activists to ask about the true costs of corruption and how best to convey that corruption comes at a massive cost to societies.

What do you think? How would you describe the “costs of corruption”?




Till Johannes Hartmann

Governance Specialist in the South Asia Region (SAR)

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