The Culture of Corruption across Generations: An Empirical Study of Bribery Attitudes and Behavior

43 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2013 Last revised: 6 Sep 2017

Date Written: May 1, 2016

Abstract

Is culture a lasting driver of corruption? I study whether normative attitudes towards bribery persist through generational change. To disentangle cultural from institutional causes, I compare individuals who share an institutional environment but whose parents were born abroad. I find evidence of intergenerational persistence: average bribery attitudes in the parental country of ancestry explain variation in bribery attitudes across second-generation immigrants. The attitudes associated with the mother's ancestry matter more than those associated with the father's, consistent with family-based mechanisms of attitudinal transmission. Relatedly, persistence is stronger for those second-generation immigrants who speak the language of their ancestors at home. I find no evidence that bribery attitudes are transmitted as part of a broader bundle of norms including generalized trust or attitudes towards the law. Finally, I show that bribery norms are associated with bribing behavior, highlighting the need to increase attention to cultural factors in corruption scholarship and policy.

Keywords: Corruption, bribery, culture, intergenerational transmission, norms, attitudes

JEL Classification: K42, Z13, D73, P48

Suggested Citation

Simpser, Alberto, The Culture of Corruption across Generations: An Empirical Study of Bribery Attitudes and Behavior (May 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2241295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2241295

Alberto Simpser (Contact Author)

ITAM-CIE ( email )

930 Camino a Santa Teresa
Mexico City, CDMX 10700
Mexico
+1.917.722.0721 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.albertosimpser.com

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