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The Impact of an Unexpected Wage Cut on Corruption: Evidence from a "Xeroxed" Exam

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  • Borcan, Oana

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Lindahl, Mikael

    (Department of Economics, Uppsala University, CESifo)

  • Mitrut, Andreea

    (Department of Economcis, Uppsala University, UCLS)

Abstract

This paper aims to understand how corruption responds to financial incentives and, in particular, it is an attempt to identify the causal impact of a wage loss on the prevalence of corruption in the education sector. Specifically, we exploit the unexpected wage cut in May 2010 that affected all Romanian public sector employees, including the public education staff, and examine its effect on students’ scores on the high-stakes national exam which occurs at the end of high school—the Baccalaureate. To exploit the effect of an income shock on corruption, we use a difference-in-difference strategy and compare the change in the exam outcomes between the public schools—the treatment group—and the private schools—the control group, which were unaffected by the wage cut. Our findings suggest that the wage loss led the public schools to have better exam outcomes than the private schools in 2010 relative to 2009. We attribute this difference to the increased involvement in corrupt activities by public school staff, which was driven by financial incentives. These results match an unprecedentedly high number of allegations of fraud and bribery against school principals, which earned the 2010 Baccalaureate the title of the Xeroxed exam—akin to identical test answers found to have been distributed to numerous students.

Suggested Citation

  • Borcan, Oana & Lindahl, Mikael & Mitrut, Andreea, 2012. "The Impact of an Unexpected Wage Cut on Corruption: Evidence from a "Xeroxed" Exam," Working Papers in Economics 535, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0535
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Corruption and wages of public officials
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-07-12 19:15:00
    2. Reducerea cu 25% a salariilor şi notele de la Bac
      by Alina Botezat in Alina Botezat Blog on 2012-10-09 16:47:00

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    Cited by:

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    2. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Meinecke, Juergen, 2016. "The labor market return to academic fraud," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 212-230.
    3. Hinnerich, Björn Tyrefors & Vlachos, Jonas, 2017. "The impact of upper-secondary voucher school attendance on student achievement. Swedish evidence using external and internal evaluations," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-14.
    4. Oana Borcan & Mikael Lindahl & Andreea Mitrut, 2017. "Fighting Corruption in Education: What Works and Who Benefits?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 180-209, February.
    5. Giulia Mugellini & Sara Della Bella & Marco Colagrossi & Giang Ly Isenring & Martin Killias, 2021. "Public sector reforms and their impact on the level of corruption: A systematic review," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(2), June.
    6. Joël CARIOLLE, 2014. "Corruption in Turbulent Times: a Response to Shocks?," Working Papers P106, FERDI.
    7. Siva M. Kumar & K. R. Jayasimha, 2019. "Brand verbs: brand synonymity and brand leadership," Journal of Brand Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 26(2), pages 110-125, March.
    8. Astghik Mavisakalyan & Vladimir Otrachshenko & Olga Popova, 2019. "Can bribery buy health? Evidence from post-communist countries," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1905, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
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    11. Hao, Zhuoqun & Liu, Yu & Zhang, Jinfan & Zhao, Xiaoxue, 2020. "Political connection, corporate philanthropy and efficiency: Evidence from China’s anti-corruption campaign," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 688-708.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    school principles; bribes; high-stakes tests;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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