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Electoral Competition and Corruption: Theory and Evidence from India

Author

Listed:
  • Afridi, Farzana

    (Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi and IZA, Bonn)

  • Dhillon, Amrita

    (Kings College London)

  • Solan, Eilon

    (Tel Aviv University)

Abstract

In developing countries with weak enforcement, there is implicitly a large reliance on re-election incentives to reduce corruption. In this paper we extend existing models of post-election accountability with pure moral hazard to incorporate heterogeneous voters. In contrast to this existing literature, we show that electoral discipline is a weak instrument for improving accountability in a majoritarian voting system. More specifically, our model predicts that not only does corruption increase with competition under some conditions, but that the only type of corruption that is responsive to electoral competition is one where voters lose private benefits from the corruption, while corruption in public goods is not responsive. Consistent with these hypotheses, novel panel data on village level audits of one of India’s largest rural public works program suggest a U-shaped relationship between electoral competition and corruption, and responsiveness of corruption only in the private benefits of the program to competition. Our findings highlight the importance of credible penalties and the need for policy interventions that reduce pilferage in the public component of welfare programs, which entail larger welfare losses to citizens.

Suggested Citation

  • Afridi, Farzana & Dhillon, Amrita & Solan, Eilon, 2019. "Electoral Competition and Corruption: Theory and Evidence from India," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 423, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:423
    as

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    File URL: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/423-2019_dhillon.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aidt, T. & Golden, M. A. & Tiwari, D., 2011. "Incumbents and Criminals in the Indian National Legislature," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1157, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Jo Thori Lind & Halvor Mehlum, 2010. "With or Without U? The Appropriate Test for a U‐Shaped Relationship," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(1), pages 109-118, February.
    3. Saul Pleeter & John T. Warner, 2001. "The Personal Discount Rate: Evidence from Military Downsizing Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 33-53, March.
    4. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2011. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1274-1311, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corruption; Electoral Competition; Audit; Accountability; Moral Hazard. JEL Classification: D72; D82; H75; O43; C72.;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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