WP69: Corruption and the inequality trap in Africa


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Working papers
Uslaner, Eric

In this paper I offer an argument I call the “inequality trap”–how high inequality leads to low trust in out-groups and then to high levels of corruption–and back to higher levels of corruption. I present the analyses for Africa using Afrobarometer data–the full cross-national surveys for Round 2 (2002), the Round 2 data for Mali (which have questions on trust and on limiting the incomes of the rich), and the Round 3 data for Nigeria (which have the most comprehensive data to test my claim that people see corruption as stemming from inequality–and leading to greater income disparities between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the powerless. The fairness of the legal system is the central factor shaping people's views of how equally people are treated.