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Electoral Accountability and Corruption in Local Governments: Evidence from Audit Reports

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  • Ferraz, Claudio

    () (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio))

  • Finan, Frederico S.

    () (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

Political corruption is a concern of many modern democracies. It weakens democratic institutions, restricts public services, and lowers productivity undermining economic development. Yet despite its importance, our understanding of what determines corruption is limited. This paper uses a novel dataset of political corruption in local governments, constructed from reports of an anti-corruption program in Brazil, to test whether the possibility of re-election affects the level of rents extracted by incumbent politicians. Exploiting variation induced by the existence of a term limit, we find that in municipalities where mayors are in their final term, there is significantly more corruption compared to similar municipalities where mayors can still be re-elected. In particular, the share of resources misappropriated is, on average, 57 percent larger in municipalities with lame-duck mayors. The findings suggest that electoral rules that enhance political accountability play a crucial role in constraining politician’s corrupt behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2007. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption in Local Governments: Evidence from Audit Reports," IZA Discussion Papers 2843, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2843
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alain de Janvry & Frederico Finan & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2012. "Local Electoral Incentives and Decentralized Program Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 672-685, August.
    2. Saarimaa, Tuukka & Tukiainen, Janne, 2015. "Common pool problems in voluntary municipal mergers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 140-152.
    3. Enrico Perotti & Marcel Vorage, 2010. "Bank Ownership and Financial Stability," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-022/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 11 Sep 2010.
    4. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2013. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives From Selection," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 369-398, April.
    5. Svaleryd, Helena & Vlachos, Jonas, 2009. "Political rents in a non-corrupt democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 355-372, April.
    6. Oriana Bandiera & Andrea Prat & Tommaso Valletti, 2009. "Active and Passive Waste in Government Spending: Evidence from a Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1278-1308, September.
    7. Ferraz, Claudio & Finan, Frederico S., 2008. "Motivating Politicians: The Impacts of Monetary Incentives on Quality and Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 3411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
    9. Alexander Whalley, 2013. "Elected versus Appointed Policy Makers: Evidence from City Treasurers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 39-81.
    10. Arvate, Paulo Roberto, 2013. "Electoral Competition and Local Government Responsiveness in Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 67-83.
    11. Fernanda Brollo, 2008. "Who Is Punishing Corrupt Politicians – Voters or the Central Government? Evidence from the Brazilian Anti-Corruption Program," Working Papers 336, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    12. Bernecker, Andreas & Boyer, Pierre C. & Gathmann, Christina, 2015. "Trial and Error? Reelection Concerns and Policy Experimentation during the U.S. Welfare Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 9113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Kenny, Charles & Soreide, Tina, 2008. "Grand Corruption in Utilities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4805, The World Bank.
    14. repec:eee:spacre:v:21:y:2018:i:1:p:19-27 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    local governments; corruption; re-election; accountability;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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