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An Experimental Bribery Game

  • Klaus Abbink
  • Bernd Irlenbusch
  • Elke Renner

Essential characteristics of corruption are (1) reciprocity relationships between bribers and public officials, (2) negative welfare effects, and (3) high penalties when discovered. We separate the influences of these factors in an experiment. In a two-player game, reciprocation is economically inefficient through negative externalities. A control treatment without externalities is also conducted. In a third, so-called sudden death treatment, corrupt pairs face a low probability of exclusion from the experiment without payment. The results show that reciprocity can establish bribery relationships, where negative externalities have no apparent effect. The penalty threat significantly reduces corruption, although discovery probabilities are typically underestimated. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

Volume (Year): 18 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 428-454

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:18:y:2002:i:2:p:428-454
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  6. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1999. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Discussion Paper Serie B 459, University of Bonn, Germany.
  7. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-52, July.
  8. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
  9. Vito Tanzi, 1998. "Corruption Around the World: Causes, Consequences, Scope, and Cures," IMF Working Papers 98/63, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Manion, Melanie, 1996. "Corruption by Design: Bribery in Chinese Enterprise Licensing," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 167-95, April.
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