Transparency and Corruption: Evidence from India
Leonid V. Peisakhin
Juan March Institute for Study and Research
March 1, 2011
Journal of Law and Economics, Forthcoming
Theories of corruption suggest that higher levels of transparency must be associated with lower levels of corruption. Yet in highly hierarchical societies where the gulf between government officials and the most underprivileged members of society is very wide, this relationship may not hold. In this paper, I set out to test the link between transparency and corruption by means of a field experiment. I ask how effective recourse to a freedom of information law is in comparison to bribery for both slum dwellers and middle class applicants in India. I demonstrate that applicants for public services who make use of the freedom of information law attain almost the same results as those who bribe. In addition, recourse to a freedom of information law comes close to erasing class differences; that is, it results in comparable processing times for slum dwellers and middle class individuals.
Keywords: Transparency, Corruption, Public Services, India, Experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D63, D89, H41, H53, K42Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 11, 2011
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