DP16596 Measuring corruption in the field using behavioral games

Author(s): Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C Vicente, Inês Vilela
Publication Date: October 2021
Keyword(s): Behavior, Citizen, Corruption, Elite capture, Game, incentives, lab-in-the-field, Political leader, Trust
JEL(s): C90, D10, D70, D72, D73
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Development Economics, Organizational Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16596

Corruption is often harmful for economic development, yet it is difficult to measure due to its illicit nature. We propose a novel corruption game to characterize the interaction between actual political leaders and citizens, and implement it in Northern Mozambique. Contrary to the game-theoretic prediction, both leaders and citizens engage in corruption. Importantly, corruption in the game is correlated with real-world corruption by leaders: citizens send bribes to leaders whom we observe appropriating community money, and these leaders are likely to reciprocate the bribes. In corrupt behavior, we identify an important trust dimension captured by a standard trust game.