Corruption and Inequality at the Crossroad: A Multi-Method Study of Bribery and Discrimination in Latin America

Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 30 Mar 2015

See all articles by Brian J. Fried

Brian J. Fried

Brandeis University - Department of Politics

Paul Lagunes

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA); Yale University - Department of Political Science; Columbia University

Atheendar Venkataramani

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

How does corruption interact with inequality? To answer this question, we employ a field experiment that examines the manner in which police officers in a major Latin American city respond to socioeconomic distinctions when requiring a bribe. In this experiment, four automobile drivers commit identical traffic violations across a randomized sequence of crossroads, which are monitored by transit police. We identify the effect of citizens’ perceived wealth on officers’ propensity to solicit bribes and on the size of the bribes that they solicit. We complement our experimental results with qualitative findings from interviews with police officers. Our core finding is that officers are more likely to target lower class individuals and let more affluent drivers off with warnings. The qualitative results suggest that officers associate wealth with the capacity to exact retribution and therefore are more likely to demand bribes from poorer individuals. We conclude that a multi-method approach provides a richer account of corrupt behavior than that found in most contemporary research.

Keywords: Corruption, Inequality, State Capture, Experiments, Audit Studies, Mexico, Bribe

Suggested Citation

Fried, Brian J. and Lagunes, Paul and Venkataramani, Atheendar, Corruption and Inequality at the Crossroad: A Multi-Method Study of Bribery and Discrimination in Latin America (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449151

Brian J. Fried

Brandeis University - Department of Politics ( email )

United States

Paul Lagunes (Contact Author)

Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Atheendar Venkataramani

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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