The corruption is a phenomenon present in different degrees in all countries around the world. In this revision article the objective was to identify the theoretical explanations of corruption and their consequences on the economic development. First, it is verified the difficulty of measurement given its illegal and secret nature. The causes can be multiple, but the literature reveals the inexistence of a solid theoretical approach. However, behavioral models and the principal-agent relationship approaches stand out in economics and political science. There is no doubt in associating the corruption to the lower economic development, that results as a consequence of the introduction of inefficiencies on investments fall in the potential product and increases the interest rate. These characteristics seem to coincide with the reality observed during the actual millennium in the Brazilian economy; without misunderstanding it results in a pernicious combination and generating of social inequalities.