Harassing the Corrupt Bureaucrat: Does Severity Work Better than Certainty?
Posted: 30 May 2018
Date Written: May 17, 2018
We present an experiment that evaluates the relative efficacies of higher fines and detection rates in combating bribery. Our results indicate that corrupt officials are deterred more by the threat of high fines in an asymmetric punishment environment than in a symmetric punishment environment. In contrast, while citizens blow the whistle on corrupt bureaucrats more frequently under an asymmetric punishment environment, the exact composition of the fine and the detection probability does not influence citizens' behavior. From a policy perspective our results suggest that imposing a hefty fine in conjunction with asymmetric punishment can reduce harassment bribery considerably. However, we also find some support for the idea that to compensate for a stricter penalty regime such as a high fine or an asymmetric punishment environment, corrupt bureaucrats might ask for higher bribe amounts adding to the citizens' woes.
Keywords: Harassment Bribery, Severity, Certainty, Punishment
JEL Classification: C91, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation