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The Dynamics of Corruption with the Ratchet Effect

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  • Jay Pil Choi
  • Marcel Thum

Abstract

This paper provides a simple model of corruption dynamics with the ratchet effect. As in Shleifer and Vishny [1993], we consider the sale of government property (entry permit) by government officials as the prototype of corruption activities. In a dynamic version of the Shleifer-Vishny model, corrupt officials have ex post the incentive to price discriminate entrepreneurs based on the entry decisions made in an earlier period. We show that the inability of government officials to commit to future money demands induces the ratchet effect in that entrepreneurs have incentives to delay entry in order to receive a discount in the permit price later. The ex post opportunism erodes the official's extortion power and reduces his revenues from selling permits. Even though the dynamic setting leaves the corrupt official with less extortion power, we cannot rule out the possibility that the official's ability to apply dynamic discrimination decreases the intertemporal aggregate social welfare. We also explore the effect of the official's tenure stability on the extent of corruption. This allows us to identify circumstances under which the often observed practice of job rotation can help mitigate corruption.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 334.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_334

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Keywords: Corruption dynamics; ratchet effect; ex post opportunism; dynamic consistency;

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  1. Thum, Claudio & Thum, Marcel, 2001. " Repeated Interaction and the Public Provision of Private Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(4), pages 625-43, December.
  2. Barry W. Ickes & Larry Samuelson, 1987. "Job Transfers and Incentives in Complex Organizations: Thwarting the Ratchet Effect," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 275-286, Summer.
  3. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "The Dynamics of Incentive Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1153-75, September.
  4. Thierry Verdier & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "The Choice between Market Failures and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 194-211, March.
  5. Malueg, David A & Solow, John L, 1989. "A Note on Welfare in the Durable-Goods Monopoly," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(224), pages 523-27, November.
  6. Bliss, Christopher & Di Tella, Rafael, 1997. "Does Competition Kill Corruption?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 1001-23, October.
  7. Dillen, Mats & Lundholm, Michael, 1996. "Dynamic income taxation, redistribution, and the ratchet effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 69-93, January.
  8. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  9. Freixas, Xavier & Guesnerie, Roger & Tirole, Jean, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 173-91, April.
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