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Fighting corruption with asymmetric penalties and leniency

Author

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  • Lambsdorff, Johann
  • Nell, Mathias

Abstract

Corrupt arrangements are characterized by a high risk of opportunism: double-dealing, whistle-blowing and extortion are significant uncertainties for participants in corrupt transactions. This paper demonstrates how legislators may use an asymmetric design of (criminal) sanctions and leniency programs to amplify these inherent risks, thereby destabilizing corrupt arrangements. It is also shown that asymmetric penalties and (ex-ante) leniency do not necessarily interfere with the goal of deterrence and may be a useful tool to disband the 'pact of silence' characteristic of corrupt arrangements. In particular, we show that bribe-takers should less be penalized for taking and more for reciprocating a bribe. Likewise, bribe-givers should be punished for giving bribes, but not for accepting the bribetakers' reciprocity.

Suggested Citation

  • Lambsdorff, Johann & Nell, Mathias, 2007. "Fighting corruption with asymmetric penalties and leniency," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 59, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:59
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "The Optimal Use of Nonmonetary Sanctions as a Deterrent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 584-592, September.
    4. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "On the Disutility and Discounting of Imprisonment and the Theory of Deterrence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, January.
    5. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
    6. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Renner, Elke, 2000. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 265-277, June.
    7. Johann Graf Lambsdorff & Sitki Utku Teksoz, 2002. "Corrupt Relational Contracting," Departmental Discussion Papers 113, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    8. Kingston, Christopher, 2007. "Parochial corruption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 73-87, May.
    9. Ogilvie Sheilagh, 2005. "The Use and Abuse of Trust: Social Capital and its Deployment by Early Modern Guilds," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 46(1), pages 15-52, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Maria Perrotta Berlin & Bei Qin & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "Leniency, Asymmetric Punishment and Corruption: Evidence from China," CEIS Research Paper 431, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 23 Apr 2018.
    3. Bernard Gauthier & Jonathan Goyette, 2014. "Taxation and corruption: theory and firm-level evidence from Uganda," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(23), pages 2755-2765, August.
    4. Karna Basu & Kaushik Basu & Tito Cordella, 2016. "Asymmetric Punishment as an Instrument of Corruption Control," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 18(6), pages 831-856, December.
    5. Sokolovska, Olena & Sokolovskyi, Dmytro, 2015. "Tax evasion as a determinant of corruption: a game-theoretical analysis," MPRA Paper 66423, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2015.
    6. Dominic Spengler, 2012. "Endogenising Detection in an Asymmetric Penalties Corruption Game," Discussion Papers 12/20, Department of Economics, University of York.
    7. Christoph Engel & Sebastian Goerg & Gaoneng Yu, 2012. "Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Punishment Regimes for Bribery," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2013.
    8. Frédéric Boehm, 2011. "Is There an Anti-corruption Agenda in Regulation? Insights from Colombian and Zambian Water Regulation," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Dmitry Ryvkin & Danila Serra, 2016. "The Industrial Organization of Corruption: Monopoly, Competition and Collusion," Working Papers wp2016_10_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    10. 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.
    11. Mathias Nell, 2009. "Contracts obtained by means of bribery: should they be void or valid?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 159-176, April.
    12. Lambsdorff, Johann Graf & Frank, Björn, 2010. "Bribing versus gift-giving - An experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 347-357, June.
    13. Frédéric Boehm & Johann Graf Lambsdorff, 2009. "Corrupción y anticorrupción: una perspectiva neo-institucional," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 11(21), pages 45-72, July-Dece.
    14. John Bone & Dominic Spengler, 2014. "Does Reporting Decrease Corruption?," Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, , vol. 26(1-2), pages 161-186, January.
    15. 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

    corruption; asymmetric penalties; leniency; (self-) reporting; whistle-blowing;

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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