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Subject Pool Effects in a Corruption Experiment: A Comparison of Indonesian Public Servants and Indonesian Students

  • Vivi Alatas
  • Lisa Cameron
  • Ananish Chaudhuri
  • Nisvan Erkal
  • Lata Gangadharan

We report results from a corruption experiment with Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students. Our results suggest that although both subject pools show a high level of concern with the extent of corruption in Indonesia, the Indonesian public servant subjects have a significantly lower tolerance of corruption than the Indonesian students. We find no evidence that this is due to a selection effect. The reasons given by the public servants for either engaging in or not engaging in corruption suggest that the differences in behavior across the subject pools are driven by their different real life experiences. For example, when abstaining from corruption public servants more often cite the need to reduce the social costs of corruption as a reason for their actions, and when engaging in corruption they cite low government salaries or a belief that corruption is a necessary evil in the current environment. In contrast, students give more simplistic moral reasons. We conclude by arguing that experiments such as the one considered in this paper can be used to measure forward-looking attitudinal change in society and that results obtained from different subject pools can complement each other in the determination of such attitudinal changes.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 975.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:975
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
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  1. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  2. Abigail Barr & Magnus Lindelow, 2003. "To serve the community or oneself: the public servant`s dilemma," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-11, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  4. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2006. "Gender and Corruption: Insights from an Experimental Analysis," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 974, The University of Melbourne.
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  8. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory experiments on corruption," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-38, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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  15. Bardhan, Pranab, 2006. "The economist's approach to the problem of corruption," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 341-348, February.
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  17. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  18. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-72, March.
  19. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
  20. Cooper, David J. & Kagel, John H., 2003. "The impact of meaningful context on strategic play in signaling games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 311-337, March.
  21. C. Cadsby & Elizabeth Maynes & Viswanath Trivedi, 2006. "Tax compliance and obedience to authority at home and in the lab: A new experimental approach," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 343-359, December.
  22. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Burks, Stephen V. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2004. "Comparing Students to Workers: The Effects of Social Framing on Behavior in Distribution Games," IZA Discussion Papers 1341, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Cameron, Lisa & Chaudhuri, Ananish & Erkal, Nisvan & Gangadharan, Lata, 2009. "Propensities to engage in and punish corrupt behavior: Experimental evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia and Singapore," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 843-851, August.
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