Latin American Corruption in Geographic Perspective

Corruption, the misuse of public office for private gains, is a cancerous phenomenon in Latin America, although it varies widely among countries in the region. This paper opens with a brief review of the causes and consequences of corruption, including the decisive roles of poverty, inequality, illiteracy, democracy, and the media. It then delves into the deep historical roots of corruption in the region, which in some cases extend to the colonial period. The third part offers a series of national vignettes to highlight the spatial unevenness of corruption. Fourth, it assesses Latin American corruption using an index from Transparency International, maps it, and offers some simple correlations to examine its ties to national well-being. The conclusion summarizes the findings and notes the ineffectiveness of anti-corruption campaigns.