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Spatial Decay of Corruption in Africa and The Middle East


Correspondence: Cassandra E. DiRienzo, Associate Professor of Economics, Associate Dean, Elon University, 2075 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244, USA. Email:


This study contributes to a small, but growing stream of literature exploring the contagious nature of corruption by examining the rate at which the correlation between countries' corruption measures decays as the geographical distance between country capital cities increases. Focusing on countries in Africa and the Middle East and using historical data from Transparency International to measure perceived levels of country corruption and the great circle distance (in miles) between country capitals, the results of this analysis indicate that corruption is contagious and can spread beyond its neighbour's borders. The rate at which corrupt practices are adopted decays as the distance between the countries' capitals increases and the first order conditions suggest that corrupt practices can spread and impact practices beyond 2700 miles. The results also suggest that reducing corruption within a nation's borders can be viewed as a positive externality as reductions in corruption levels can spillover to other countries and help to lower corruption within a larger geographical region.