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Combining Top-down and Bottom-up Accountability: Evidence from a Bribery Experiment

  • Danila Serra

Monitoring corruption typically relies on top-down interventions aimed at increasing the probability of external controls and the severity of punishment. An alternative approach to fighting corruption is to induce bottom-up pressure for reform. Recent studies have shown that both top-down and bottom-up mechanisms are rarely able to keep service providers accountable. This paper investigates the effectiveness of an accountability system that combines bottom-up monitoring and top-down auditing using data from a specifically designed bribery lab experiment. We compare “public officials” tendency to ask for bribes under: 1) no monitoring; 2) conventional top-down auditing, and 3) an accountability system which gives citizens the possibility to report corrupt officials, knowing that reports lead to formal punishment with some low probability (the same as in 2). The experimental results suggest that “combined” accountability systems can be highly effectives in curbing corruption, even when citizens “voice” leads to formal punishment with a relatively low probability. In contrast, pure top-down auditing may prove ineffective, especially in a weak institutional environment.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2008-25.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2008-25
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