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Corruption and culture: An experimental analysis

  • Barr, Abigail
  • Serra, Danila

Why do some people choose corruption over honesty and others not? Do the social norms and values prevailing in the societies in which they grew up affect their decisions? In 2005, we conducted a bribery experiment and found that, among undergraduates, we could predict who would act corruptly with reference to the level of corruption in their home country. Among graduate students we could not. In 2007, we replicated our result and also found that time spent in the UK was associated with a decline in the propensity to bribe, although this does not explain our inability to predict graduate behaviour. We conclude that, while corruption may, in part, be a cultural phenomenon, individuals should not be prejudged with reference to their country of origin.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
Issue (Month): 11-12 (December)
Pages: 862-869

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:11-12:p:862-869
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2000. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1389, Econometric Society.
  2. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
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  8. Klaus Abbink, 2000. "Fair Salaries and the Moral Costs of Corruption," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse1_2000, University of Bonn, Germany.
  9. Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales & Luigi Guiso, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 11999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2008. "The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-24, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  11. Cameron, Lisa & Chaudhuri, Ananish & Erkal, Nisvan & Gangadharan, Lata, 2009. "Propensities to engage in and punish corrupt behavior: Experimental evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia and Singapore," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 843-851, August.
  12. Licht, Amir N. & Goldschmidt, Chanan & Schwartz, Shalom H., 2007. "Culture rules: The foundations of the rule of law and other norms of governance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 659-688, December.
  13. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2003. "The Hot Versus Cold Effect in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, June.
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  16. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
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