Choosing Agents and Monitoring Consumption: A Note on Wealth as a Corruption-Controlling Device
There are a large number of cases where corruption has been discovered investigating levels of consumption that appear to be hard to justify. Yet, in the standard moral hazard model withholding of effort by the agent is not observable to the principal. We argue that this assumption has to be revised in applications that study corruption. The informativeness of an agent's level of consumption depends on his legal income and initial level of wealth, as conspicuous consumption by wealthy agents leads to little updating of the principal's belief about their honesty. This introduces a tendency to prefer poor agents as they are easier to monitor. More generally, we describe the basic problem of choosing agents and monitoring consumption with the aim of reducing corruption, and discuss features of the practical applications. We show that when there is consumption monitoring and wealth is observed, the effect of higher wealth on equilibrium bribes is ambiguous (and that the political class will exhibit lower variance in consumption than the general population). In settings where formal contracts matter, we show that monitoring consumption introduces a tendency towards low powered incentives (and more generally low wages). We also discuss the role of ability, the tax system, and the way to derive a measure of the value of illegal funds for the agent.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2007|
|Publication status:||published as RafaelDi Tella & Federico Weinschelbaum, 2008. "Choosing agents and monitoring consumption: a note on wealth as a corruption-controlling device," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1552-1571, October.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
- Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1995. "Corruptible Law Enforcers: How Should They Be Compensated?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 145-159, January.
- Tirole, Jean, 1994.
"The Internal Organization of Government,"
Oxford Economic Papers,
Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
- Tirole, J., 1993. "The Internal Organization of Government," Working papers 93-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, December.
- Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
- Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Tim Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 928, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2004. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
- David K. Levine & Federico Weinschelbaum & Felipe Zurita, 2010. "The Brother-In-Law Effect," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(2), pages 497-507, 05.
- Federico Weinschelbaum & Davide K. Levine & Felipe Zurita, 2005. "The Brother in Law Effect," Working Papers 89, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Dec 2005.
- David K Levine & Federico Weinschelbaum & Felipe Zurita, 2005. "The Brother in Law Effect," Documentos de Trabajo 303, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
- David K Levine & Federico Weinschelbaum & Felipe Zurita, 2006. "The Brother in Law Effect," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000587, David K. Levine.
- Rose-Ackerman, Susan, 1975. "The economics of corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 187-203, February.
- Van Rijckeghem, Caroline & Weder, Beatrice, 2001. "Bureaucratic corruption and the rate of temptation: do wages in the civil service affect corruption, and by how much?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 307-331, August.
- Rasmusen, Eric, 1992. "An Income-Satiation Model of Efficiency Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(3), pages 467-478, July.
- Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
- Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
- Walsh, Carl E, 1995. "Optimal Contracts for Central Bankers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 150-167, March.
- Vickers, John, 1985. "Delegation and the Theory of the Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(380a), pages 138-147, Supplemen.
- Besley, Timothy & McLaren, John, 1993. "Taxes and Bribery: The Role of Wage Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 119-141, January.
- Prendergast, Canice, 2000. "Investigating corruption," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2500, The World Bank. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)