The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development released a new report February 25 summarizing the learning on corruption in developing nations and how to combat it. Why Corruption Matters: Understanding Causes, Effects and How to Address Them was commissioned to help donor agency staff who advise on anticorruption policies and to assist in the design of programs to control corruption. As its title advertises, the report examines three issues: the causes of corruption; its costs, both financial and non-financial; and what measures reduce it. Those searching for what developing nations can do to fight corruption will turn immediately to chapter 5, “Anticorruption Measures,” which evaluates a variety of different efforts to control corruption from ratifying UNCAC to reforming customs and tax agencies to conducting public expenditure tracking surveys.
Readers looking for new steps developing countries can take to control corruption or confirmation that the standard approaches are working will be disappointed. Few interventions have had any effect, and with one exception, the evidence showing these have had an impact is thin.