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To Serve The Community Or Oneself: The Public Servant'S Dilemma

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  • Abigail Barr

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

  • Magnus Lindelow

    (The World Bank)

  • Pieter Serneels

    (University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

Embezzlement of resources is hampering public service delivery throughout the developing world.Research on this issue is hindered by problems of measurement. To overcome these problems we use an economic experiment to investigate the determinants of coorupt behaviour. We focus on three aspects of bahaviour; (i) embezzlement by public servants; (ii) monitoring effort by designated monitors; (iii)voting by community members when provided with an opportunity to select a monitor. The experiment allows us to study the effect of wages, effort observability, rules for monitor assignment, and professional norms. Our experimental subjects are Ethiopian nursing students. We find that service providers who earn more embezzle less, although the effect is small. Embezzlement is also lower when observability (associated with the risk of being caught and sanctioned) is high, and when sevice providers face an elected rather than randomly selected monitor. Monitors put more effort into monitoring, when they face re- election and when the public servant receives a higher wage. Communities re-elect monitors who put more effort into exposing embezzlement. Framing - whereby players are referred to as 'health workers' and 'community members' rather than by abstract labels - affects neither mean embezzlement nor mean monitoring effort, but significantly increases the variance in both. This suggests that different types of experimental subject respond differently to the framing, possibly because they adhere to different norms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0409035.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 23 Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0409035

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Cited by:
  1. Libor Dušek & Andreas Ortman & Lubomír Lízal, 2005. "Understanding Corruption and Corruptibility Through Experiments," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2005(2), pages 147-162.
  2. Juan Camilo C�rdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, 09.
  3. Patricia Crifo & Jean-Louis Rullière, 2004. "Incentives and Anonymity Principle: Crowding Out Toward Users," CESifo Working Paper Series 1316, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Klaus Abbink & Matthew Ellman, 2004. "The donor problem," Economics Working Papers, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra 796, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2005.
  5. David Zetland, 2010. "Save the poor, shoot some bankers," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 331-337, December.
  6. Tomas Lievens & Pieter Serneels, 2008. "Institutions for Health Care Delivery A Formal Exploration of what Matters to Health Workers Evidence from Rwanda," Economics Series Working Papers, University of Oxford, Department of Economics WPS/2008-29, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Abigail Barr & Magnus Lindelow, 2005. "Intrinsic motivations on the development frontline: Do they exist? Do they endure?," Economics Series Working Papers, University of Oxford, Department of Economics GPRG-WPS-033, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. L. Cameron & A. Chaudhuri & N. Erkal & L. Gangadharan, 2005. "Do Attitudes Towards Corruption Differ Across Cultures? Experimental Evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia andSingapore," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series, The University of Melbourne 943, The University of Melbourne.
  9. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2009. "Subject pool effects in a corruption experiment: A comparison of Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 113-132, March.
  10. Petra Stykow, 2004. "Der Fall Russland: Korruption als Kollateralschaden der Transformation?," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 73(2), pages 247-262.
  11. Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Rajiv Sethi, 2007. "Attitudes and attributes: a field experiment with public officials and transfer recipients In Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE 006881, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  12. Olivier Armantier & Amadou Boly, 2008. "Can Corruption Be Studied in the Lab? Comparing a Field and a Lab Experiment," CIRANO Working Papers, CIRANO 2008s-26, CIRANO.
  13. World Bank, 2007. "Ethiopia : Urban Labor Markets, Challenges and Prospects, Volume 1. Synthesis Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8011, The World Bank.
  14. Elke Renner, 2004. "Wie lässt sich Korruption wirksam bekämpfen?: Empirische Befunde aus der experimentellen Wirtschaftsforschung," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 73(2), pages 292-300.

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