Abstract: This paper studies the role of corruption in determining the distribution of income and, with this, the degree of poverty and inequality. The analysis is based on an overlapping generations model in which individuals may seek to improve their productive e¢ ciency by supplementing or substituting publicly-provided services (education and health care) with their own expenditures on human capital formation. Financial market imperfections mean that their ability to do this depends on their initial wealth status, implying the possibility of persistent inequality in multiple long-run equilibria. We show how corruption may exacerbate this by compromising public service provision. This occurs through the double whammy of both reducing the earnings and increasing the population of those who rely most on such services. Higher levels of corruption are associated with higher levels of poverty and may result in a complete polarisation between the rich and poor through the elimination of any middle class.
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