Subject pool effects in a corruption experiment: A comparison of Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students
We report results from a corruption experiment with Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students. Our results suggest that although both subject pools show a high level of concern with the extent of corruption in Indonesia, the Indonesian public servant subjects have a significantly lower tolerance of corruption than the Indonesian students. We find no evidence that this is due to a selection effect. The reasons given by the public servants for either engaging in or not engaging in corruption suggest that the differences in behavior across the subject pools are driven by their different real life experiences. For example, when abstaining from corruption public servants more often cite the need to reduce the social costs of corruption as a reason for their actions, and when engaging in corruption they cite low government salaries or a belief that corruption is a necessary evil in the current environment. In contrast, students give more simplistic moral reasons. We conclude by arguing that experiments such as the one considered in this paper can be used to measure forward-looking attitudinal change in society and that results obtained from different subject pools can complement each other in the determination of such attitudinal changes.
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