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Electoral Rules and Corruption

  • Torsten Persson

    (Stockholm University)

  • Guido Tabellini

    (Bocconi University)

  • Francesco Trebbi

    (Harvard University)

Is corruption systematically related to electoral rules? Recent theoretical work suggests a positive answer. But little is known about the data. We try to address this lacuna by relating corruption to different features of the electoral system in a sample of about eighty democ-racies in the 1990s. We exploit the cross-country variation in the data, as well as the time variation arising from recent episodes of electoral reform. The evidence is consistent with the theoretical priors. Larger voting districts-and thus lower barriers to entry-are associated with less corruption, whereas larger shares of candidates elected from party lists-and thus less individual accountability-are associated with more corruption. Individual accountability appears to be most strongly tied to personal ballots in plurality-rule elections, even though open party lists also seem to have some effect. Because different aspects roughly offset each other, a switch from strictly proportional to strictly majoritarian elections only has a small negative effect on corruption. (JEL: E62, H3) Copyright (c) 2003 The European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 (06)
Pages: 958-989

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:4:p:958-989
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  1. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2000. "Evaluation methods for non-experimental data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 427-468, January.
  2. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  4. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  5. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
  6. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
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