Yesterday, an Austrian court sentenced former Minister of Interior and MEP Ernst Strasser to four years in jail after being convicted of bribe-taking.
Recent economic research shows that corrupt politicians decrease overall welfare. In an analysis of 460 estimates of corruption on economic growth, Campos, Dimova, and Saleh find "negative and significant effects of corruption on growth [...] which seem to be stronger in academic than in nonacademic studies." (p15)
These effects may hit the poorest in society stronger. Using Indian data, Matthieu Chemin estimates that the election of a convicted criminal leads to an about 19 percent drop in consumption of the poorest in that area. (An older, ungated version is here.) Criminal politicians are perhaps more common in India than in Austria, Chemin quotes the Election Commission of India which states that 1,500 of nearly 14,000 candidates in the 1996 parliamentary election had criminal records.