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A Search-Theoretic Model of Bureaucracy and Corruption

  • Shouyong Shi
  • Ted Temzelides

We analyze bureaucracy and corruption in a market with decentralized exchange and lemons. Exchange is modelled as a sequence of bilateral, random matches. Agents have private information about the quality of goods they produce and can supplement trade with socially inefficient bribes. Bureaucracy is modelled as a group of agents similar to private agents, but who enjoy centralized production and consumption. Transaction patterns between the bureaucracy and the private sector are fully endogenous. Our main finding is that centralized production and consumption in the bureaucracy also gives rise to low power incentives for the individual bureaucrats. As a result, we find conditions under which private agents bribe bureaucrats, while they do not bribe each other. An equilibrium with corruption and an equilibrium without corruption can co-exist. We discuss some welfare implications of the model.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number shouyong-03-02.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 11 Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:shouyong-03-02
Contact details of provider: Postal: 150 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario
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  1. Acemoglu, D. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Choice between Market Failures and Corruption," DELTA Working Papers 97-06, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  2. repec:oup:qjecon:v:84:y:1970:i:3:p:488-500 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Li, Yiting & Wright, Randall, 1998. "Government Transaction Policy, Media of Exchange, and Prices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 290-313, August.
  4. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1993. "Why Is Rent-Seeking So Costly to Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 409-14, May.
  5. Rose-Ackerman,Susan, 1999. "Corruption and Government," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521659123.
  6. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  7. Stephen D. Williamson & Randall Wright, 1991. "Barter and monetary exchange under private information," Staff Report 141, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Rose-Ackerman,Susan, 1999. "Corruption and Government," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521632935.
  9. Engineer, Merwan & Shouying Shi, 1998. "Asymmetry, imperfectly transferable utility, and the role of fiat money in improving terms of trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 153-183, February.
  10. Cadot, Olivier, 1987. "Corruption as a gamble," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 223-244, July.
  11. Lui, Francis T., 1986. "A dynamic model of corruption deterrence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 215-236, November.
  12. Lui, Francis T, 1985. "An Equilibrium Queuing Model of Bribery," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 760-81, August.
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