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Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes

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  • Claudio Ferraz
  • Frederico Finan

Abstract

This paper uses publicly released audit reports to study the effects of disclosing information about corruption practices on electoral accountability. In 2003, as part of an anticorruption program, Brazil's federal government began to select municipalities at random to audit their expenditures of federally transferred funds. The findings of these audits were then made publicly available and disseminated to media sources. Using a data set on corruption constructed from the audit reports, we compare the electoral outcomes of municipalities audited before versus after the 2004 elections, with the same levels of reported corruption. We show that the release of the audit outcomes had a significant impact on incumbents' electoral performance, and that these effects were more pronounced in municipalities where local radio was present to divulge the information. Our findings highlight the value of having a more informed electorate and the role played by local media in enhancing political selection.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:703-745.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2008.123.2.703
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    More about this item

    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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