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Experiments in culture and corruption : a review

  • Banuri, Sheheryar
  • Eckel, Catherine

Two decades of empirical evaluation have shown that corruption has a negative impact on economic growth, political stability, judicial effectiveness, democratization, educational attainment, and equality of income. However, corruption exists, persists, and varies significantly by culture. Lab studies have recently come to the forefront in identifying both the incentives and disincentives for corrupt behavior. However, lab studies on culture and corruption have led to some puzzling, contradictory results. This paper begins with a discussion of non-experimental work in this area, and evaluates the experimental findings in the context of earlier research. The authors sketch out the channels through which culture interacts with corruption (through institutions and social norms), and argue that discrepancies in experimental results may be due to differences in design (including repetition or unobserved variation in beliefs) or to differences in the response to punishment across societies. In addition to exploring design-based reasons for previous contradictory findings, avenues for future research include: behavioral responses to different types of externalities; replicating results in different countries; and utilizing the lab to formulate effective anti-corruption measures.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6064.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6064
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  1. Guido Tabellini, 2005. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 1492, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Schulze, Günther G. & Frank, Björn, 2000. "Deterrence versus intrinsic motivation: Experimental evidence on the determinants of corruptility," Discussion Papers, Series I 303, University of Konstanz, Department of Economics.
  3. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2008. "Corruption and culture: An Experimental Analysis," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2008-23, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2002. "An Experimental Bribery Game," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 428-454, October.
  5. Andvig, J.C. & Ove Moene, K., 1988. "How Corruption May Corrupt," Memorandum 20/1988, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  6. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  7. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2006. "Subject Pool Effects in a Corruption Experiment: A Comparison of Indonesian Public Servants and Indonesian Students," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 975, The University of Melbourne.
  8. Brandts, Jordi & Solà, Carles, 2010. "Personal relations and their effect on behavior in an organizational setting: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 246-253, February.
  9. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
  10. Abigail Barr & Danila Serra, 2009. "The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 488-503, December.
  11. Danila Serra, 2005. "Empirical determinants of corruption: A sensitivity analysis," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-012, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  12. repec:kap:expeco:v:11:y:2008:i:2:p:134-153 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Hauk, Esther & Saez-Marti, Maria, 2002. "On the Cultural Transmission of Corruption," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 311-335, December.
  14. Michèle Belot & Jeroen van de Ven, 2011. "Friendships and Favouritism on the Schoolground – A Framed Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1228-1251, December.
  15. Arai, Kazuhiro, 2006. "Trust, Cultural Devices, and Efficiency in Game Experiments," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 47(2), pages 249-264, December.
  16. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory experiments on corruption," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-38, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  17. 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.
  18. Frank, Bjorn & Schulze, Gunther G., 2000. "Does economics make citizens corrupt?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 101-113, September.
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