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The power of information : evidence from a newspaper campaign to reduce capture

  • Reinikka, Ritva
  • Svensson, Jakob

The authors exploit an unusual policy experiment to evaluate the effects of increased public access to information as a tool to reduce capture and corruption of public funds. In the late 1990s, the Ugandan government initiated a newspaper campaign to boost schools'and parents'ability to monitor local officials'handling of a large school-grant program. The results were striking: capture was reduced from 80 percent in 1995 to less than 20 percent in 2001. The authors use distance to the nearest newspaper outlet as an instrument for exposure to the campaign. Proximity to a newspaper outlet is positively correlated with the head teachers'knowledge about rules governing the grant program and the timing of releases of funds from the center, but uncorrelated with test scores of general ability. A strong (reduced-form) relationship exists between proximity to a newspaper outlet and reduction in capture of school funds since the newspaper campaign started. This pattern contrasts sharply with the outcomes in the five-year period prior to the campaign. Instrumenting for head teachers'knowledge about the grant program, the authors find that public access to information is a powerful deterrent to capture at the local level.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3239.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3239
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  1. Reinikka, Ritva & Svensson, Jakob, 2003. "Survey techniques to measure and explain corruption," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3071, The World Bank.
  2. Svensson, Jakob, 2000. "Foreign aid and rent-seeking," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 437-461, August.
  3. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  4. Simeon Djankov & Caralee McLiesh & Tatiana Nenova & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Who Owns the Media?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1919, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
  6. Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
  7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," CESifo Working Paper Series 416, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Ades, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael, 1997. "National Champions and Corruption: Some Unpleasant Interventionist Arithmetic," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1023-42, July.
  9. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  10. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Di Tella, Rafael & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2003. "The Role of Wages and Auditing during a Crackdown on Corruption in the City of Buenos Aires," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(1), pages 269-92, April.
  12. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
  13. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy Of Government Responsiveness: Theory And Evidence From India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451, November.
  14. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  15. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
  16. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1994. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," NBER Working Papers 4956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Fran├žois Bourguignon & Maurizio Bussolo & Luiz A. Pereira da Silva, 2008. "The Impact of Macroeconomic Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution : Macro-Micro Evaluation Techniques and Tools," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6586, September.
  18. Ritva Reinikka & Paul Collier, 2001. "Uganda's Recovery : The Role of Farms, Firms, and Government," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13850, September.
  19. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Ruimin He, 2003. "The World Bank of the Future," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 39-44, May.
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