Making sense of health corruption in times of COVID-19



corruption, health, institutions, rent-seekind, political entrepreneurship


This paper provides readers with an analytical framework to better understand the rationality of corruption and its perpetuation in the health sector during the coronavirus pandemics. To pursue the foregoing task, it embarks on integrating insights from New Institutional Economics, Public Choice Theory, and the Austrian School of Economics to come up with an explanation of corrupt deals that uncover their causally relevant mechanisms. Its goal is to shed light on corruption risks that emerge from changes in legislation that weakened public procurement rules and therefore turned the Brazilian health system more vulnerable to corrupt acts. The article conjectures that increased uncertainty, asymmetric information, and decreased transparency channels have played major roles in triggering corrupt practices, such as bribery, kickback, embezzlement, influence peddling, and cronyism. More precisely, it argues that rent-seeking and predatory political entrepreneurship are two driving forces behind Brazilian corrupt exchanges and their risks in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers some evidence that corruption scandals in Rio de Janeiro state make a very good case for showing the explanatory value of the proposed theoretical approach. It closes by wrapping up the overall argument, presenting some policy implications and questions for further research.


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Biografia do Autor

Roberta Muramatsu, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, SP - Brazil

Doutora em Economia e Filosofia. Mestre em Economia pela Universidade de São Paulo. Bacharel em Economia pela Universidade de São Paulo. Professora Adjunto de Economia e Pesquisador do Centro Mackenzie de Liberdade Econômica.

Paulo Rogério Scarano, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo, SP - Brazil

Economista, doutor em Ciências Sociais (área de concentração: Relações Internacionais) pela Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, mestre em Economia pela Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo e Bacharel em Ciências Econômicas pela Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. 

Caroline Cipolla Bertan, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Bonn, NRW - Germany

Mestre em Economia Aplicada pela Universidade Federal de São Carlos - UFSCAR (2013) e economista pela Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Aplicadas da Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (2009). Atualmente, trabalha no Ministério dos Transportes na Alemanha.


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Como Citar

Muramatsu, R., Scarano, P. R., & Cipolla Bertan, C. . (2021). Making sense of health corruption in times of COVID-19. Revista Do Serviço Público, 72(a), 86 - 109. Recuperado de



Special on Public Choice: Essays in Honor of Jorge Vianna Monteiro (closed)