Ever the Twain Shall Meet

Instinctively, corruption is deplorable. Nobody likes private citizens paying governmental officials for special favors. Few have deplored corruption longer or in greater detail than economist Susan Rose-Ackerman. In Corruption and Government, Professor Rose-Ackerman discusses how corruption starts (“causes”), why it is bad (“consequences”), and how to stop it (“reform”), principally from an economic perspective. Professor Rose-Ackerman’s interest in corruption derives partly from her outside work with international agencies, especially time spent at the World Bank – “a transformative experience” (p. xi). Her twenty-two page bibliography ranges across sources in economics and politics, plus many documents from the World Bank and other international groups. Causes, consequences, and reform constitute a sensible approach to analyzing corruption. One must first know the reasons for and effects of corruption before advancing any convincing prescription for correcting it. The book does not divide itself quite so neatly along those three lines. Causes, consequences, and reforms are intermingled in many chapters, as the book cycles through all three. Ultimately, however, the reader understands well what Professor Rose-Ackerman sees as corruptions’ causes, costs, and cures.