Tim Harford, the author of The Undercover Economist, has a most depressing line in a recent column. He says:
“We can try to earn money by doing something useful, or we can try to steal or extort it from other people. A society where most people are doing something useful has a good chance of being rich; a society full of corruption will be poor.”
Harford quotes a recent study by the economists Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel of parking violations by diplomats to underline his point about corruption.
From 1997-2005, the famously incorruptible Scandinavians committed only 12 unpaid parking violations, and most of them were by a single criminal mastermind from Finland. But over the same period of time, Chad and Bangladesh, regularly at the top of the corruption tables, managed to produce more than 2,500 violations between them.
Also see: Is corruption in our bloody genes?