Department of Economics

Research student insight

N N Tarun Chakravorty


N N Tarun Chakravorty

  • Department of Economics
  • First supervisor: Dr Ajit Mishra
  • Second supervisor: Professor John Hudson
  • Research title: Corruption in Bangladesh: Its implications for firm and macroeconomic growth

Tarun is investigating how corruption affects firms and macroeconomic growth. This research has a wide impact for the development of policy to tackle the problem of corruption.

Prior to undertaking his PhD, Tarun studied two Masters of Economics degrees; one from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and the other from the University of Leeds.

The highest levels of corruption in the world

Corruption Perceptions Index 2013

The Corruption Perceptions Index highlights the secret dealings and bribery taking place around the world. (see larger map)

Source: Transparency International’s corruption perception index

Bangladesh has traditionally been a very highly corrupt country according to the Transparency International’s corruption perception index.

This corruption has been perceived to be the biggest obstacle to development, while around 26%, according to the World Report 2010, of the people there live under the poverty line. This fact created my motivation to conduct research into corruption.

Tarun wanted to investigate the growth-corruption link, so we can better understand how corruption affects growth.

I wanted to do something for my country by finding a remedy for corruption so that the economy could grow faster and lead towards development.


Questioning firms about bribing

Man taking bribe

Since paying a bribe is a criminal offence (as taking a bribe is), Tarun had to phrase questions in such a way that respondents will not feel as though they have done wrong.

Tarun used this questioning technique to gain a better idea of the real activities taking place:

“Many business people have told us that firms are often required to make informal payments to public officials to deal with customs, taxes, licenses etc. Can you estimate what a firm in your line of business and of similar size and characteristics typically pays each year?”


The complexities of corruption

Through his research, Tarun has found the literature in this field to be divided on the impact of corruption on economic growth.

One strand advocates that corruption negatively affects growth, the second advocates that corruption positively affects growth and the third argues that corruption may be helpful to expedite economic activities when the society and the state are stuck in too much corruption; in this case corruption may appear to positively impact growth.

Tarun’s research findings support the third strand, meaning that in Bangladesh, corruption can help the economy grow: files do not move without bribing.

Researching as part of the Department of Economics

Tarun has attended many of the PG Skill courses which have taught him more about the various software packages essential for his research. He also regularly attends departmental seminars, of which there are two each week; one with internal speakers and one with high profile external speakers.

These seminars are a great way to know about the latest research contributions, exchange ideas, and debate topics.

Due to his part-time jobs commitments and visits to Bangladesh for field work, Tarun has had to manage his time carefully.

When on campus I often associate with postgraduate students in the Graduate Centre once a week for coffee. I have also been able to attend some excellent events at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on many occasions where I have met new people and exchanged ideas.

Acceptance to the Royal Economic Society and future plans

Through his studies Tarun was invited to present his research paper at the Royal Economic Society (RES) annual conference 2014. The acceptance of this article even before the completion of his PhD is a rarity for most research students.

Acceptance of this article by RES is a great testament to the accuracy of my methodology and data analysis, and acceptance of the results found in it.

Looking ahead, Tarun is hoping to write a book on the political economy of corruption in Bangladesh.

For my career I hope to become a lecturer at a high ranking university, or work as an economist in a research organisation or a development agency.

Further information


When I'm not researching, my favourite thing to do in Bath is...

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Performing music

I play violin on different occasions across Bath, such as the reception accorded to freshers of the University at the Pavilion and in local churches.

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