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Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Punishment Regimes for Bribery

Author

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  • Christoph Engel

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Sebastian Goerg

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Gaoneng Yu

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

Abstract

In major legal orders such as UK, the U.S., Germany, and France, bribers and recipients face equally severe criminal sanctions. In contrast, countries like China, Russia, and Japan treat the briber more mildly. Given these differences between symmetric and asymmetric punishment regimes for bribery, one may wonder which punishment strategy is more effective in curbing corruption. For this purpose, we designed and ran a lab experiment in Bonn (Germany) and Shanghai (China) with exactly the same design. The results show that, in both countries, with symmetric punishment recipients are less likely to grant the socially undesirable favor, while bribers are more likely to report to the authorities with asymmetric punishment. In addition, when punishment was asymmetric, corrupt offers were significantly more likely in Shanghai, but not in Bonn. Our results suggest a tradeoff between deterrence and law enforcement. In a forward-looking perspective, lawmakers must decide which aim carries more weight.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Engel & Sebastian Goerg & Gaoneng Yu, 2012. "Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Punishment Regimes for Bribery," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2012_01
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel, 2016. "Experimental Criminal Law. A Survey of Contributions from Law, Economics and Criminology," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Johannes Buckenmaier & Eugen Dimant & Luigi Mittone, 2016. "Tax Evasion and Institutions. An Experiment on The Role of Principal Witness Regulations," PPE Working Papers 0007, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Perrotta Berlin, Maria & Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Qin, Bei, 2015. "Leniency, Asymmetric Punishment and Corruption: Evidence from China," SITE Working Paper Series 34, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 25 May 2017.
    4. Karna Basu & Kaushik Basu & Tito Cordella, 2016. "Asymmetric Punishment as an Instrument of Corruption Control," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 18(6), pages 831-856, December.
    5. Astrid Gamba & Giovanni Immordino & Salvatore Piccolo, 2016. "Organized Crime and the Bright Side of Subversion of Law," DISCE - Working Papers del Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza def039, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    6. Frank Björn & Li Sha & Bühren Christoph & Qin Haiying, 2015. "Group Decision Making in a Corruption Experiment: China and Germany Compared," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(2), pages 207-227, April.
    7. Abbink, Klaus & Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun, 2014. "Letting the briber go free: An experiment on mitigating harassment bribes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-28.
    8. repec:eee:pubeco:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:79-88 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kjetil Bjorvatn & Tina Søreide, 2014. "Corruption and competition for resources," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(6), pages 997-1011, December.
    10. Dominic Spengler, 2012. "Endogenising Detection in an Asymmetric Penalties Corruption Game," Discussion Papers 12/20, Department of Economics, University of York.
    11. Schmolke, Klaus Ulrich & Utikal, Verena, 2016. "Whistleblowing: Incentives and situational determinants," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 09/2016, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    12. Gamba, Astrid & Immordino, Giovanni & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2018. "Corruption, organized crime and the bright side of subversion of law," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 79-88.
    13. Amadou Boly & Robert Gillanders, 2016. "Anti-corruption policy-making, discretionary power, and institutional quality An experimental analysis," WIDER Working Paper Series 088, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. John Bone & Dominic Spengler, 2014. "Does Reporting Decrease Corruption?," Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, , vol. 26(1-2), pages 161-186, January.
    15. Spengler Dominic, 2014. "Endogenous Detection of Collaborative Crime: The Case of Corruption," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-17, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bribery; Punishment; Effectiveness; Asymmetry; Legislation;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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