In my post last week, I went after a bunch of recent blog commentary that asserted there wasn’t much evidence that corruption mattered for development (and that also asserted the allegedly disproportionate focus on corruption was a “fetish” of self-satisfied Western countries). My emphasis in that post was on presenting the evidence that corruption is indeed a serious problem, one that citizens in developing countries care about. But I didn’t say much directly in response to the evidence that the targets of my screed (Christopher Blattman, Michael Dowdle, Jason Hickel) had offered for the claim that corruption’s not all it’s cracked up to be as a development problem. Of the posts I went after, Blattman’s made the most effort to ground the corruption’s-not-so-important claim in academic research. So I think his most detailed post on the subject deserves closer scrutiny than I gave it in my original polemic. (By the way, Blattman also included an interesting direct response to my post here; my reply is in his comments section.)
After reviewing Blattman’s post and the research he cites (and links to) in support of his argument that there’s little evidence that corruption matters very much for economic growth, my conclusions are largely unchanged. Indeed, I think that the academic papers on which Blattman relies tend to undermine his point more than they support it.