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

  • Claudio Ferraz

    (Instituto de Pesquisa Econ�mica Aplicada)

  • Frederico Finan

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles and IZA)

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. (c) 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 123 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 703-745

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:703-745
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