Measuring corruption in the field using behavioral games

Alex Armand

Nova School of Business and Economics, CEPR, Institute for Fiscal Studies and NOVAFRICA

Alexander Coutts

Schulich School of Business – York University, e NOVAFRICA

Pedro C. Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, BREAD e NOVAFRICA

Inês Vilela

Royal Holloway – University of London, e NOVAFRICA

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 2112
Setembro de 2021


Corruption is often harmful for economic development, yet it is difficult to measure due to its illicit nature. We propose a novel corruption game to characterize the interaction between actual political leaders and citizens, and implement it in Northern Mozambique. Contrary to the game-theoretic prediction, both leaders and citizens engage in corruption.
Importantly, corruption in the game is correlated with real-world corruption by leaders: citizens send bribes to leaders whom we observe appropriating community money, and these leaders are likely to reciprocate the bribes. In corrupt behavior, we identify an important trust dimension captured by a standard trust game.

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