, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 78-99
Date: 20 Apr 2013

Intermediaries in corruption: an experiment

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Abstract

Anecdotal evidence suggests that intermediaries are ubiquitous in corrupt activities; however, empirical evidence on their role as facilitators of corrupt transactions is scarce. This paper asks whether intermediaries facilitate corruption by reducing the moral or psychological costs of possible bribers and bribees. We designed bribery lab experiment that simulates petty corruption transactions between private citizens and public officials. The experimental data confirm that intermediaries lower the moral costs of citizens and officials and, thus, increase corruption. Our results have implications with respect to possible anti-corruption policies targeting the legitimacy of the use of intermediaries for the provision of government services.

We thank Abigail Barr, David Cooper, Dann Millimet, Ernesto Reuben, Tim Salmon and two anonymous referees for valuable insights and suggestions. We also thank participants at the 2010 SEA Meeting, the FSU experimental reading group, the CESS (Oxford) workshop, the 4th NYU-CESS Experimental Political Science conference, the 7th IMEBE meeting and the 2011 Lisbon Meeting in Institutions and Political Economy for useful comments. Mikhail Drugov gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science under grants ECO2008-03516 and ECO2011-30323-C03-03. Danila Serra acknowledges financial support from the program for the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise at Florida State University.