2021 Organisation and Management of Aid Review

Corruption and Aid: A Literature Review (in Swedish)

Helena Hede Skagerlind

Corruption in development aid is a recurring issue of debate. Within this background report, the author  compiles conclusions from academic and grey literature on the extent of corruption in development assistance. The focus is primarily corruption in development aid and not corruption as an obstacle to development.

Main findings

  1. Corruption has a negative impact on the results of development assistance. Corruption is a global problem that does not only occur in poor countries. Dialogue on anti-corruption thus needs to take place at all levels, everywhere.
  2. Aid can both increase and limit corruption in a partner country. Some of the effects on corruption can be influenced by donors.
  3. Neither the total global extent nor the cost of corruption can be reliably calculated. The prevalence of corruption in development assistance varies widely, which is probably due to different definitions or measures and data collection methods and contexts.
  4. Corruption appears to be higher in countries and societies where needs, poverty and vulnerability are higher. Examples of sectors or processes where corruption is particularly prevalent are infrastructure, water, public procurement and the health sector.
  5. Knowledge of bilateral and multilateral development assistance’s potential to curb corruption is limited. The conclusions about the existence of corruption in various forms of support – core support versus project support and state versus non-state aid – are also ambiguous.