Indecent Disclosures: Anti-Corruption Reforms and Political Selection

64 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2018 Last revised: 30 Mar 2020

See all articles by David Szakonyi

David Szakonyi

George Washington University; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: March 27, 2020

Abstract

Cracking down on corruption has become a key tool for politicians to build popular support. But little is known about whether anti-corruption measures actually change political behavior. This paper evaluates the effects of a common reform -- financial disclosures -- using data on 25,724 elections in Putin-era Russia. I argue that financial disclosures function like a personal audit, generating information for media and law enforcement authorities to investigate crimes committed inside and outside of government. Disclosures increase the risk of illicit gains from office or past financial crimes triggering electoral or legal consequences. Exploiting staggered elections, I show that these reforms lead to fewer incumbents seeking re-election, as well as fewer candidates with suspicious financial histories. The effects are magnified where media freedom and law enforcement capacity are high. Increasing transparency changes the incentives for serving in public office, even in settings where other political motives may be at play.

Keywords: anticorruption, political selection, elections, Russia, autocracy, rent-seeking, asset disclosures

Suggested Citation

Szakonyi, David, Indecent Disclosures: Anti-Corruption Reforms and Political Selection (March 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3101123 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3101123

David Szakonyi (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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