Buying Our Way Out of Corruption: Performace-Based Incentive Bonuses for Developing Country Politicians and Bureaucrats

Martin Skladany, Penn State Dickinson Law


This Article argues for the establishment of performance-based financial incentive programs in developing countries that would pay politicians and high-level bureaucrats substantial bonuses (ten to twenty times or more of their official yearly salaries) to reduce corruption within their countries. These incentive programs would turn the weapon of greed back on itself by aligning the motivations of politicians and bureaucrats with the stated goals of government and the desires and will of citizens.Paying corrupt public officials to stop stealing may seem distasteful, but the problems that developing countries face and yet cannot overcome because of systemic corruption are staggering and have been largely resistant to other anticorruption strategies. By simply altering the source of funds to public servants, performance-based incentive programs for developing country politicians and high-level bureaucrats can, over the long run, create a culture of clean governance conducive to sustainedeconomic growth and can make all aspects of development, such as improving infrastructure, education, and health care, more manageable.