Types of Corruption
An interesting breakdown of types of corruption by Yuen Yuen Ang on Freakonomics:
I propose a typology of four types of corruption divided along two dimensions. First, whether the corruption involves elites or non-elites. And second, whether the corruption involves theft or exchange. So this intersection creates, first of all, corruption with theft, which I divide into petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft would be like extortion — a police officer who just stops you and robs you of $200. Grand theft would be embezzlement. Nigeria would be a classic case, billions of dollars siphoned out of a country. And then I distinguish between two types of transactional corruption. The first is what I call speed money, which is bribes paid to low- or medium-level officials in order to overcome red tape or delays or harassment. And then I have a fourth category called access money, which is privileges paid to powerful officials, not because you want to overcome red tape, but because you want to buy special deals from them.
I use the analogy of drugs because we know that all drugs are harmful, but they harm in different ways. Petty theft and grand theft are like toxic drugs, where if you take this drug, it’s definitely going to damage your health, you get no benefit from it… Speed money are like painkillers, so they help you to relieve a headache by overcoming red tape, but they don’t help you grow muscles fast. They don’t help you to grow your business. And access money are the steroids of capitalism, and steroids, we know, help you grow muscle fast. They help you perform superhuman feats. But they come with serious side effects that accumulate over time, and they only erupt in the event of a meltdown.