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Electoral Rules and Corruption

Author

Listed:
  • Torsten Persson

    (Stockholm University)

  • Guido Tabellini

    (Bocconi University)

  • Francesco Trebbi

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2003. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 958-989, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:1:y:2003:i:4:p:958-989
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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