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Corruption and Elections: An Empirical Study for a Cross-section of Countries

  • Stefan Krause
  • Fabio Mendez

In this paper, we study whether voters are more likely to "vote out" a corrupt incumbent than to re-elect him. Specifically, we examine whether they retract their support from political candidates who they think are corrupt by looking at changes in an index of corruption perceptions between the current and the last elections. Our results suggest that corruption in public office is effectively punished by voters. Furthermore, our findings support the idea that both the political system and the democratic experience are important determinants of the voters' reaction and control of corruption; while voters in countries with parliamentary systems or with relatively low levels of democracy react negatively to an increase in corruption, no perceptible effect of this kind was found in countries with mature democracies and the evidence is inconclusive in the case of countries with presidential systems.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0709.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0709
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  1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, . "Political Economics and Macroeconomic Policy," Working Papers 121, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  2. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  3. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," NBER Working Papers 8154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  5. William D. Nordhaus, 1989. "Alternative Approaches to the Political Business Cycle," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(2), pages 1-68.
  6. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  7. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745, 05.
  8. Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman & Reis Soares, Rodrigo, 2001. "Accountability and corruption : political institutions matter," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2708, The World Bank.
  9. Herzfeld, Thomas & Weiss, Christoph, 2003. "Corruption and legal (in)effectiveness: an empirical investigation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 621-632, September.
  10. Paldam, Martin, 1986. "The distribution of election results and the two explanations of the cost of ruling," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-24.
  11. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  12. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
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