Discerning Corruption: Credible Accusations and the Punishment of Politicians in Brazil

29 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2014

See all articles by Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Matthew S. Winters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science; Institute for Corruption Studies

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

When are citizens most likely to hold politicians to account for wrongdoing? In a crowded information environment, political accountability can be achieved only if credible information is available and citizens are able to identify that information. In this paper, we argue that the ability to discern more from less credible information is increasing in citizen sophistication. Using data from an original survey experiment in Brazil, we show that all citizens react negatively to corruption allegations, but that highly educated respondents are more likely to punish credible accusations and to overlook less credible accusations. We then show, using municipal-level audit data, that voters are more likely to punish credible accusations of corruption in municipalities with high literacy rates. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism that may link increasing education with control of political corruption: educated citizens are better able to discern and therefore act on credible accusations.

Keywords: corruption; survey experiment; information credibility; Brazil

JEL Classification: D72,

Suggested Citation

Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca and Winters, Matthew S., Discerning Corruption: Credible Accusations and the Punishment of Politicians in Brazil (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2454956

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://vivo.brown.edu/display/rweitzsh

Matthew S. Winters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Political Science ( email )

702 S. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/mswinters1/home

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
151
Abstract Views
751
rank
193,174
PlumX Metrics