Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kelly M. McMann's "Corruption as a Last Resort"

Kelly M. McMann is Associate Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University and author of Economic Autonomy and Democracy: Hybrid Regimes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia, and reported the following:
We have a good idea as to why government officials engage in corruption. But, why do ordinary people? Corruption as a Last Resort examines the motivations of average Central Asians to help us understand why they engage in corruption. Page 99 asks whether people in other regions of the world have the same motivations.
The accounts from Central Asia, specifically from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, show that ordinary people use bribes, connections, and promises of political support to try to obtain employment and credit from government officials. People use “corruption”—their term—to meet these everyday needs only when markets, societal groups, family, and formal government programs cannot.

Why are these institutions and groups unable to provide what people need? Market reform—meaning policies to reduce the state’s role in the economy—is, in large part, to blame. In these countries market reform decreased the state’s role, but it did not create the necessary institutions to help the market and society fill the void. For example, private banks have difficulty lending in rural areas because credit registries, which record people’s creditworthiness, are limited. In turn, when people lack the credit to create profitable businesses, they donate little to mosques and secular charities, making it difficult for these organizations to help the needy.

The global analysis on page 99 shows that also in other regions of the world corruption is more common where market institutions, such as credit registries, are limited. The policy implication is that discouraging government officials from engaging in corruption is not enough to combat the problem. Rather, we must boost market institutions and societal assistance so that ordinary people do not have to resort to corruption to meet their everyday needs.
Learn more about Corruption as a Last Resort at the Cornell University Press.

--Marshal Zeringue