Jonathan Ruto

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PhD Student

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr-University Bochum
Universitätsstr. 105, Room 2.23
44789 Bochum

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Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-26163

Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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Research Interest

  • Corruption and Democracy
  • Development Economics
  • Public Choice and Political Economics
  • Public Policy and Administration

PhD Project

A study on the impact of corruption on democratic governance in African countries

Corruption has been described as democracy’s hidden disease because it is a chronic impediment to growth and development of many developing nations. For the poor citizens who already have meagre resource and must rely on government support and services to meet basic needs like education or healthcare, corruption increases the costs of living even more. But even citizens who can meet their basic needs without relying on government support, corruption negatively impacts their lives by increasing the cost of doing business or accessing higher level government services. Corruption is quite prevalent in democratic African nations with certain scholars considering it a conventional feature of African societies. Analytic macro-level indices of political systems such as Corruption Perception Index (CPI) have supported this view as they have consistently ranked African countries as some of the most corrupt in the world. The measurement of corruption and its computation however is quite contested and as will be described in the paper, popular measures of corruption have their own limits and criticisms.

The relationship between corruption and democracy is complex and intertwined. The general expectation is that when democratic institutions fail an increase in corruption occurs and vice versa when corruption levels increase democracy deteriorates. When corruption becomes widely prevalent it can result in the loss of societal trust in state institutions and processes causing citizens to react in ways that further cause the destabilization of democratic governance. This is because democratic states are most stable and durable when built upon public legitimacy. This popular support is based on societal trust and confidence in representative institutions that connect citizens and the government such as political parties, parliament, the courts and elections and the media. Consequently, where the popular legitimacy of democratic institutions declines and the electoral process is undermined, countries risks sliding back to autocratic governance systems.

Using Afrobarometer data, my research intends to systematically and empirically test these hypothetical assessments and find out what the impact of corruption is on trust in democratic institutions and the electoral process in select African countries. This paper will also try to get a clearer and detailed picture of corruption within and across several African countries by building an experience-based tool based on the Afrobarometer data for measuring corruption and comparing the results against those from the most popular corruption measures.

Supervisor: Prof Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein


2009 - 2013   Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of Nairobi
2015 - 2018   MA Development Studies, University of Passau