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Corruption and culture: An Experimental Analysis

  • Abigail Barr
  • Danila Serra

Why do some people choose corruption over honesty and others not?� Do the social norms and values prevailing in the societies in which they grew up affect their decisions?� In 2005, we conducted a bribery experiment and found that, among undergraduates, we could predict who would act corruptly with reference to the level of corruption in their home country.� Among graduates we could not.� In 2007, we replicated our result.� We conclude that individuals' propensities to act corruptly may reflect the cultures in which they grew up.� However, certain types of individuals may not conform to their cultures and could, therefore, act as agents for change.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2008-23.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2008-23
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  1. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  2. 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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  4. Posner, Richard A. & Rasmusen, Eric B., 1999. "Creating and enforcing norms, with special reference to sanctions1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 369-382, September.
  5. Licht, Amir N. & Goldschmidt, Chanan & Schwartz, Shalom H., 2007. "Culture rules: The foundations of the rule of law and other norms of governance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 659-688, December.
  6. George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2000. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1389, Econometric Society.
  8. Richard Posner & Eric Rasmusen, 1999. "Creating and Enforcing Norms, With Special Reference to Sanctions," Law and Economics 9907004, EconWPA.
  9. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
  10. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2008. "The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-24, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  11. Hauk, Esther & Saez-Marti, Maria, 2002. "On the Cultural Transmission of Corruption," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 311-335, December.
  12. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  13. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2003. "The Hot Versus Cold Effect in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, June.
  14. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
  15. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  16. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory experiments on corruption," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-38, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  17. Klaus Abbink, 2000. "Fair Salaries and the Moral Costs of Corruption," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse1_2000, University of Bonn, Germany.
  18. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
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