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Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia

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  • Benjamin A. Olken

Abstract

This paper uses a randomized field experiment to examine several approaches to reducing corruption. I measure missing expenditures in over 600 village road projects in Indonesia by having engineers independently estimate the prices and quantities of all inputs used in each road, and then comparing these estimates to villages' official expenditure reports. I find that announcing an increased probability of a government audit, from a baseline of 4 percent to 100 percent, reduced missing expenditures by about 8 percentage points, more than enough to make these audits cost-effective. By contrast, I find that increasing grass-roots participation in the monitoring process only reduced missing wages, with no effect on missing materials expenditures. Since materials account for three-quarters of total expenditures, increasing grass-roots participation had little impact overall. The findings suggest that grass-roots monitoring may be subject to free-rider problems. Overall, the results suggest that traditional top-down monitoring can play an important role in reducing corruption, even in a highly corrupt environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11753.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Publication status: published as Olken, Benjamin. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia." Journal of Political Economy 115, 2 (April 2007): 200-249.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11753

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  1. Di Tella, Rafael & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2003. "The Role of Wages and Auditing during a Crackdown on Corruption in the City of Buenos Aires," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(1), pages 269-92, April.
  2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 2002. "Participation and Development: Perspectives from the Comprehensive Development Paradigm," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(2), pages 163-82, June.
  3. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 471-500, April.
  4. Daniel Nagin & James Rebitzer & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 2002. "Monitoring, Motivation and Management: The Determinants of Opportunistic Behavior in a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Decentralization of Governance and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 185-205, Fall.
  6. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Enrico Moretti, 2005. "Did Iraq Cheat the United Nations? Underpricing, Bribes, and the Oil for Food Program," NBER Working Papers 11202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Cadot, Olivier, 1987. "Corruption as a gamble," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 223-244, July.
  8. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2000. "Corruption and Decentralization of Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 104, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  9. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  10. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  11. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
  12. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
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