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Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments

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  • Claudio Ferraz
  • Frederico Finan

Abstract

We show that political institutions affect corruption levels. We use audit reports in Brazil to construct new measures of political corruption in local governments and test whether electoral accountability affects the corruption practices of incumbent politicians. We find significantly less corruption in municipalities where mayors can get reelected. Mayors with reelection incentives misappropriate 27 percent fewer resources than mayors without reelection incentives. These effects are more pronounced among municipalities with less access to information and where the likelihood of judicial punishment is lower. Overall our findings suggest that electoral rules that enhance political accountability play a crucial role in constraining politician's corrupt behavior. (JEL D72, K42, O17)

Suggested Citation

  • Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2011. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1274-1311, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:4:p:1274-1311
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    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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