International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two
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International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two

Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Tina Søreide

A companion volume to the International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption published in 2006, the specially commissioned papers in Volume Two present some of the best policy-oriented research in the field. They stress the institutional roots of corruption and include new research on topics ranging from corruption in regulation and procurement to vote buying and private firm payoffs.
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Chapter 11: Field Experimentation and the Study of Corruption

Leonid V. Peisakhin


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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