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Self-Selection into Corruption: Evidence from the Lab


  • Pablo Brassiolo
  • Ricardo Estrada
  • Gustavo Fajardo
  • Juan F. Vargas


We study whether opportunities to extract rents in a job affect the type of individuals who are attracted to it in terms of their underlying integrity. We do so in a laboratory experiment in which participants choose between two contracts that involve different tasks. We experimentally introduce the possibility of graft in one of them and study the sorting of subjects across contracts based on an incentivized measure of honesty. We find that the corruptible contract changes the composition of subjects because it attracts the most dishonest individuals and repels the most honest ones. In addition, we observe extensive graft when the opportunity is available. We introduce a double randomization strategy to disentangle the extent of which stealing responds to the aforementioned negative selection or to pure incentives (net of selection). We find that, in this setting, selection is the main driver of graft. Our results have clear policy implications to curb corruption.

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  • Pablo Brassiolo & Ricardo Estrada & Gustavo Fajardo & Juan F. Vargas, 2020. "Self-Selection into Corruption: Evidence from the Lab," Documentos de Trabajo 18182, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA).
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000518:018182

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Petr Houdek & Štěpán Bahník & Marek Hudík & Marek Vranka, 2021. "Selection effects on dishonest behavior," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 16(2), pages 238-266, March.
    2. Vranka, Marek & Hudík, Marek & Frollová, Nikola & Bahník, Štěpán & Sýkorová, Markéta & Houdek, Petr, 2021. "Honesty of online workers: A field experiment shows no evidence of self-selection of cheaters to a cheating-enabling work environment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    3. repec:cup:judgdm:v:16:y:2021:i:2:p:238-266 is not listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Corruption; selection; rent extraction opportunities; personnel economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics

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