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Consumers' Complaints, the Nature of Corruption, and Social Welfare

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  • J. Atsu Amegashie

Abstract

A primary means of bureaucratic oversight is consumer complaints. Yet, this important control mechanism has received very little attention in the literature on corruption. I study a model of corruption with incomplete information in which consumers require a government service from officials who may be corrupt. A victim of corruption can report corrupt officials to higher-ranking officials (supervisors) who may be corrupt or honest. I find that social welfare may be non-monotonic in the proportion of honest supervisors. In some cases, an increase in the proportion of honest supervisors increases social welfare only if there is a critical mass of honest supervisors. Under certain conditions, there is, surprisingly, an equilibrium in which no one reports corruption regardless of the proportion of honest supervisors although all lower-ranking officials are corrupt. The analysis shows that using an increase in consumer complaints as a measure of the success of an anti-corruption campaign may be wrong because the consumers may benefit in other ways (e.g., a fall in the equilibrium bribe). I also fill a gap in the literature by endogenizing an official’s decision to engage in “corruption with theft” or “corruption without theft” as defined by Shleifer and Vishny (1993) and use the model to shed light on recent anticorruption initiatives such as the Punjab Citizen Feedback Model in Pakistan and a recent proposal by Kaushik Basu (2012).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4295.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4295

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Keywords: bribes; consumer complaints; corruption with theft; corruption without theft; Bayesian equilibrium;

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References

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  1. Amegashie, J. Atsu, 2006. "Incomplete Property Rights, Redistribution, And Welfare," MPRA Paper 3438, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Klaus Abbink & Utteeyo Dasgupta & Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain, 2013. "Letting the Briber Go Free: An Experiment on Mitigating Harassment Bribes," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 62-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  4. Reinikka, Ritva & Svensson, Jakob, 2011. "The power of information in public services: Evidence from education in Uganda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 956-966, August.
  5. Alessandro Lizzeri, 2003. "Efficient Sorting in a Dynamic Adverse Selection Model," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000098, UCLA Department of Economics.
  6. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2004. "Fairness and Redistribution," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000283, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1992. "Monitoring vis-a-vis Investigation in Enforcement of Law," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 556-65, June.
  8. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Canice Prendergast, 2003. "The Limits of Bureaucratic Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 929-958, October.
  10. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  11. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  12. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  13. Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
  14. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "Consumers and Agency Problems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C34-C51, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Klaus Abbink & Utteeyo Dasgupta & Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain, 2013. "Letting the Briber Go Free: An Experiment on Mitigating Harassment Bribes," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 62-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.

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