Controlling Corruption in Law Enforcement: Incentives, Safeguards, and Institutional Change in the Ottoman Empire

Posted: 19 Dec 2011

See all articles by Metin M. Cosgel

Metin M. Cosgel

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Bogac A. Ergene

University of Vermont

Haggay Etkes

Bank of Israel

Thomas J. Miceli

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 19, 2011

Abstract

Until the seventeenth century, the Ottomans used fines extensively for law enforcement and employed agents to collect the fines. Fines can be costly to implement because of agency problems and corruption. To solve the problem of corruption, the Ottomans implemented a variety of mechanisms, including periodic rotation of officials, separation of adjudication from punishment, and compensation for law enforcers through a two-part scheme consisting of fines and taxes. The system underwent a significant transformation after the seventeenth century, following a period of high inflation that raised the agency cost of a fixed fine system. Imperial decentralization in the provinces and the institution of long-term tax farming also altered the government’s relationship with local law enforcement agents and reduced the effectiveness of control mechanisms. Consequently, the Ottomans relied less on fines for punishment. Using insights from the law and economics literature, we examine how the earlier mechanisms helped to combat corruption in law enforcement and why they were less effective in later periods.

Keywords: Ottoman, law and economics, history

Suggested Citation

Cosgel, Metin M. and Ergene, Bogac A. and Etkes, Haggay and Miceli, Thomas J., Controlling Corruption in Law Enforcement: Incentives, Safeguards, and Institutional Change in the Ottoman Empire (December 19, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1974661

Metin M. Cosgel

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Bogac A. Ergene

University of Vermont ( email )

133 Prospect St.
Burlington, VT 05405-0158
United States

Haggay Etkes (Contact Author)

Bank of Israel ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Jerusalem, 91907
Israel

Thomas J. Miceli

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States
860-486-5810 (Phone)
860-486-4463 (Fax)

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