Corruption – What is it and What are its Effects?



Corruption is when someone in a public position of responsibility, uses their position or their power in a way that they privately or personally benefit from it.
Corruption happens on all scales, from very big to small. An example of small scale corruption could be a police officer pulling you over saying that you have committed a motoring offence when you haven’t in order to try and threatening you that they will arrest or report you unless you pay a bribe.
Larger scale corruption can include acts by government officials to use money and resources to their own advantage, for example spending public money in a different way than they say or that they are allowed to do so by law. They use these parts of money to benefit them and not the citizens of the country.


Countries with a lot of corruption Countries with very little corruption
Accountability of public officials (holding them responsible for their actions) It is in the interest of the public to know how public officials are spending state money. A result of corruption means that we don’t know how all public money is being spent. Therefore, we don’t know where money is going when it is missing or who to blame for something that goes wrong. Public officials should have to follow the law just as much as everyone else should do. The public know exactly how public money is spent. This is good because it means that public officials are held responsible for their mistakes and it means that the public are able to know what is being done by public officials in the interests of the country.
Economy (the wealth of a country) Corruption has negative effects on a country’s economy. If the resources (crops for example) and money of a country are being used for the private gain of those with power, then they are not helping the country to develop. Since money is used for what it is said to be used for and very little is lost due to corruption, the economy has more of a chance to do well and grow.
Public confidence The public do not trust public authorities. People are more likely to have confidence in public authorities because they are doing their best to do their job and not abusing their responsibility for their own gain. It is a good thing for the public to be able to have confidence in people who work as public officials because they are working for the benefit of the public.
Criminal justice Everyone should be equal when it comes to law. In other words, all laws apply to everybody the same. Corruption means that this is not what happens because it is more difficult to bring the rich and wealthy to justice. For example, a bribe may have to be paid so that a person is not treated badly in prison or to have their case moved forwards. Also, a bribe may be paid so that a person is never arrested for a crime that they are guilty of. This means that the justice system is very unfair because lots of guilty people are not punished and lots more innocent people suffer. People who commit offences, no matter who they are, are all just as likely to be caught, arrested and stand trial. They will be tried only on the evidence in court. The aim of the system is that innocent people are walk free and guilty people are found guilty and sentenced to a punishment.
Recovery of a country after conflict Counties are less likely to recover well after a conflict. Corruption means that peacekeeping is difficult and there is less money to rebuild areas damaged in fighting. A country is able to recover faster from damage and peacekeeping measures will be more effective.


It is very important for countries, and everyone in them, to take action to stop corruption.Recently, there was the first global meeting about corruption called the Anti-Corruption Summit and it was held with aims to:

  • Expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide
  • Punish the people who are involved and support those who are effected by corruption
  • Stop the culture of corruption wherever it exists

Lots of actions have been agreed at the summit to attempt to reduce corruption, including encouraging transparency. Transparency means keeping truthful, detailed, public records of how public money is spent.

If systems are in place to help expose corruption then it will be a lot easier for people to be caught and not to get away with it, especially for big scale corruption. To combat small scale corruption it is important that the rules are in place for it to be illegal so that people effected feel confident that they can report it.

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