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The Law and Economics of Bribery and Extortion

Susan Rose-Ackerman

Yale Law School

November 15, 2010

Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 6, pp. 217-236, 2010
Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 408

Corruption has serious economic and social costs and can undermine government legitimacy. Economic analysis can help one understand the incentives for bribery and extortion and the deterrent effect of the law. Such analysis suggests that the law in many jurisdictions needs to be redesigned. Penalties are poorly tied to the marginal benefits of bribery. Small bribes often are more effectively deterred than larger ones because penalties are not tied to the perpetrators’ gains. Economic analysis also highlights the tension between obtaining evidence to bring a case ex post and deterrence ex ante. Furthermore, enforcement programs have not incorporated bureaucratic structure in a sophisticated way, and in many countries the criminal law only applies to individuals, not firms. In short, economic analysis can help guide the reform debate by proposing workable law enforcement strategies for the control of bribery and extortion.

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Date posted: July 23, 2010 ; Last revised: November 17, 2010

Suggested Citation

Rose-Ackerman, Susan, The Law and Economics of Bribery and Extortion (November 15, 2010). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 6, pp. 217-236, 2010; Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 408. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1646975

Contact Information

Susan Rose-Ackerman (Contact Author)
Yale Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
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