Corruption refers to the abuse of authority or power in order to benefit personally. It may include embezzlement, blackmail, extortion, nepotism, fraud, collusion, and bribery. Some of the most common types of corruption include corruption among those who hold positions as public servants, such as government officials, police officers, judges, and lawyers. However, corruption can occur in other sectors as well, including medical, education, and the private business sector.

Types of Corruption

Corruption is usually defined according to the scale of the action and those it affects. There are three main types of corruption representing different levels:

  • Petty Corruption: is the most minimal type of corruption. It involves exchanging gifts or money for personal favors or other gains. This type of corruption is often seen in countries where public servants and officials are underpaid.
  • Grand Corruption: occurs at the highest level of government. It involves a significant refusal to abide by the rules of political, economic, or legal systems. The United States government is divided into three branches – executive, legislative, and judiciary – to prevent grand corruption from occurring.
  • Systemic Corruption: is based on the ineffectiveness of a particular process or organization. It does not involve individuals who defy the rules of the system by acting corruptly, but rather, involves a system that is in itself corrupt. When corruption occurs frequently on a wide scale by many individuals in positions of authority or power, the system is corrupt.

The Cost of Corruption

In some cases, the harmful effects corruption can be difficult to identify. For instance, some might wonder who is really hurt when someone gives a gift to a public official in the hopes of getting their documents processed faster. Both parties win: the citizen gets his or her documents processed in a timely manner and the public official gets a gift. Unfortunately, it’s those who are left out of this transaction that are negatively affected. This reduces access to fair treatment for those who don’t have the means or aren’t morally inclined to give gifts in order to receive favors. From this point, it’s a slippery slope to a society that condones corruption. When corruption is rampant, the amount of wealth accessible to working class people decreases. The gap between the rich and the poor widens and trust in the government or other organizations with authority plummets.

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Preventing Corruption

Corruption often occurs when the individual stands to gain more from behaving corruptly than he or she will lose if caught and prosecuted. The level of corruption present in a city, state, or country therefore depends on the system in place. If an individual is likely to be caught and punished for behaving corruptly, then he or she will be less likely to take the risk. In the United States, corruption is illegal and therefore it happens on a smaller scale, often behind closed doors. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

Quick Summary

Corruption is a type of crime that involves abusing authority or power in order to gain as an individual. It has a negative effect and can get out of hand when governments are liable to turn a blind eye to it. There are three types of corruption: petty, grand, and systemic corruption. Corruption is illegal in the United States but still occurs in public and private sectors.