Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Tina Søreide
Chapter 11: Field Experimentation and the Study of Corruption
Leonid V. Peisakhin1 1. Introduction There is general agreement among policy makers and social scientists that corruption, defined here conventionally as abuse of public office for private gain, retards growth, brings about misallocation of public funds, and breeds cronyism and inefficiency (Shleifer and Vishny, 1993, Svensson, 2005). However, our knowledge of how corruption operates is still limited. Although theories abound about what constitutes an effective anti-corruption policy – higher wages for government officials (Becker and Stigler 1974), stricter monitoring and higher penalties (Acemoglu and Verdier, 1998), and greater transparency and grassroots involvement in policy making (Rose-Ackerman, 2004) are just several of these – we have few means to adjudicate between them, because corruption is clandestine and therefore difficult to study. Conventional indices based on perceptions of corruption, such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index or the World Bank’s governance indicators, are generally poor at measuring actual corruption. Treisman notes that ‘these indices do not correlate as highly as one might expect with citizens’ actual experiences with corruption as measured by surveys of business managers and other victims’ (2007: 241) and suggests that ‘the challenge of the next wave of research will be to refine and gather more experience-based measures of corruption’ (p. 213).2 Likewise, a methodological tradition that has been highly influential in economics over the last few decades, namely laboratory experiments, has not often been used to study corruption. Abbink (2006) summarizes the few experiments that have been carried out. Such work has the advantage of controlling the environment to...
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