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Deterrence, peer effect, and legitimacy in anti-corruption policy-making: An experimental analysis

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  • Amadou Boly
  • Robert Gillanders
  • Topi Miettinen

Abstract

In our framed laboratory experiment, two Public Officials, A and B, make consecutive decisions regarding embezzlement from separate funds. Official B observes Official A’s decision before making their own. There are four treatments: three with deterrence and one without. We find a peer effect in embezzlement in that facing an honest Official A reduces embezzlement by Official B. Likewise, deterrence matters in that higher detection probabilities significantly decrease embezzlement. Crucially, detection is more effective in curbing embezzlement when chosen by an honest Official A compared to a corrupt Official A at almost all individual detection levels. This ‘legitimacy’ effect may help explain why anti-corruption policies can fail in countries where the government itself is believed to be corrupt.

Suggested Citation

  • Amadou Boly & Robert Gillanders & Topi Miettinen, 2016. "Deterrence, peer effect, and legitimacy in anti-corruption policy-making: An experimental analysis," WIDER Working Paper Series 137, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2016-137
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie Villeval, 2018. "Embezzlement and Guilt Aversion," Working Papers halshs-01779145, HAL.
      • Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie Claire Villeval, 2018. "Embezzlement and Guilt Aversion," Working Papers 1807, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Boly, Amadou & Gillanders, Robert, 2017. "Effective anti-corruption policy-making: What can we learn from experimental economics?," PEGNet Policy Briefs 9/2017, PEGNet - Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

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    Keywords

    corruption; deterrence; embezzlement; laboratory experiment; legitimacy; peer effect;

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