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Monitoring Corruptible Politicians

Listed author(s):
  • Gustavo J. Bobonis
  • Luis R. Cámara Fuertes
  • Rainer Schwabe

Does monitoring corrupt activities induce a sustained reduction in corruption? Using longitudinal data on audits of municipal governments in Puerto Rico, we show corruption is considerably lower in municipalities with timely audits—before elections. However, these municipalities do not exhibit decreased levels of corruption in subsequent audits, even while mayors in these benefit from higher reelection rates. Our results suggest that audits enable voters to select responsive but corruptible politicians to office. Audit programs must disseminate results when they are most relevant for voters—shortly before an election—and ensure that these programs are sustained, long-term commitments.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 106 (2016)
Issue (Month): 8 (August)
Pages: 2371-2405

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:8:p:2371-2405
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20130874
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  1. Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2013. "Corruption Dynamics: The Golden Goose Effect," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 230-269, November.
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  6. Fernanda Brollo, 2008. "Who Is Punishing Corrupt Politicians – Voters or the Central Government? Evidence from the Brazilian Anti-Corruption Program," Working Papers 336, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
  8. Benjamin A. Olken, 2007. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 200-249.
  9. Timothy Besley, 2004. "Joseph Schumpeter Lecture: Paying Politicians: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 193-215, 04/05.
  10. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
  11. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
  12. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
  13. Rohini Pande, 2011. "Can Informed Voters Enforce Better Governance? Experiments in Low-Income Democracies," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 215-237, September.
  14. 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.
  15. Martina Björkman & Jakob Svensson, 2009. "Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 735-769.
  16. Scott Ashworth, 2005. "Reputational Dynamics and Political Careers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(2), pages 441-466, October.
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