Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Climate, Diseases, and the Origins of Corruption

Vu, Trung V. (2020): Climate, Diseases, and the Origins of Corruption.

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It has been commonly observed that tropical countries typically suffer from intense corruption and underdevelopment. I offer an explanation for this long-standing disparity across the world based on variation in the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UV-R). The central idea of this paper holds that UV-R is positively associated with the (historical) prevalence of eye diseases, which significantly shortens work-life expectancy as a skilled worker. This arguably shapes the global pattern of corrupt practices. Interestingly, this finding appears to be strong and insensitive to accounting for different theories explaining differences in corruption levels across the globe. Further analyses using individual-level data taken from the World Values Survey and provincial level data for China lend strong credence to the cross-country evidence.

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