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Why, for a Class of Bribes, the Act of Giving a Bribe should be Treated as Legal

Author

Listed:
  • Basu, Kaushik

Abstract

The paper puts forward a small but novel idea of how we can cut down the incidence of bribery. There are different kinds of bribes and what this paper is concerned with are bribes that people often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. I shall call these ― “harassment bribes”. Suppose an income tax refund is held back from a taxpayer till he pays some cash to the officer. Suppose government allots subsidized land to a person but when the person goes to get her paperwork done and receive documents for this land, she is asked to pay a hefty bribe. These are all illustrations of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in India and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a corrosive effect on civil society. The central message of this paper is that we should declare the act of giving a bribe in all such cases as legitimate activity. In other words the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the state. It is argued that this will cause a sharp decline in the incidence of bribery. The reasoning is that once the law is altered in this manner, after the act of bribery is committed, the interests of the bribe giver and the bribe taker will be at divergence. The bribe giver will be willing to cooperate in getting the bribe taker caught. Knowing that this will happen, the bribe taker will be deterred from taking a bribe. It should be emphasized that what is being argued in this paper is not a retrospective pardon for bribe-giving. Retrospective pardons are like amnesties. They encourage rather than discourage corrupt behavior by rewarding the corrupt. And, in the process, they corrode society‘s morals.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Kaushik, 2011. "Why, for a Class of Bribes, the Act of Giving a Bribe should be Treated as Legal," MPRA Paper 50335, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:50335
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/50335/1/MPRA_paper_50335.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Abbink, Klaus & Wu, Kevin, 2017. "Reward self-reporting to deter corruption: An experiment on mitigating collusive bribery," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 256-272.
    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. repec:eee:rujoec:v:2:y:2016:i:4:p:375-401 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Banerjee, Ritwik & Mitra, Arnab, 2018. "On monetary and non-monetary interventions to combat corruption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 332-355.
    6. 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.
    7. Sergey V. Popov, 2016. "On Basu's Proposal: Fines Affect Bribes," Economics Working Papers 16-04, Queen's Management School, Queen's University Belfast.
    8. repec:eee:pubeco:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:79-88 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Dominic Spengler, 2012. "Endogenising Detection in an Asymmetric Penalties Corruption Game," Discussion Papers 12/20, Department of Economics, University of York.
    10. Basu Kaushik, 2018. "A short history of India's economy : A chapter in the Asian drama," WIDER Working Paper Series 124, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. 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.
    12. Ashima Goyal, 2018. "Indian Banks and the Prevention of Corruption Act: Freedom and Discipline," Working Papers id:12944, eSocialSciences.
    13. 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; Corruption;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation

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