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Dishonesty Begets Dishonesty and Spreads Like a Contagion

The World Bank estimates that globally at least $1 trillion is used annually for bribes and corrupt exchanges of all types, in business and government. In an article in Scientific American magazine, two leading researchers on the subject note that corruption, whether on a large or small scale, hinders any countries’ socioeconomic development:

It affects economic activities, weakens institutions, interferes with democracy and erodes the public's trust in government officials, politicians and their neighbors. ... Unless preventive measures are taken, dishonesty can spread stealthily and uninvited from person to person like a disease, eroding social norms and ethics—and once a culture of cheating and lying becomes entrenched, it can be difficult to dislodge.

Just one seemingly harmless bribe affects both the person making the bribe and the one accepting. “And notably, its domino like effect can impact many individuals over time, spreading quickly across a society and, if left unchecked, entrenching a culture of dishonesty. ... Over time the line between ethical and unethical behavior becomes blurry, and dishonesty becomes the ‘way of doing business.’”

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