Original Article

Public Choice

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 471-493

First online:

Transparency, wages, and the separation of powers: An experimental analysis of corruption

  • Omar AzfarAffiliated withAssociate Professor of Economics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • , William Robert NelsonJrAffiliated withJames Buchanan Center for Political Economy, Buchanan House, MSN 1E6, George Mason University Email author 

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We conducted an experimental analysis of the causes of corruption, varying the ease of hiding corrupt gains, officials’ wages, and the method of choosing the law enforcement officer. Voters rarely re-elect chief executives found to be corrupt and tend to choose presidents who had good luck. Directly elected law enforcement officers work more vigilantly at exposing corruption than those who are appointed. Increasing government wages and increasing the difficulty of hiding corrupt gains both reduce corruption.


Corruption Development Experiment Separation of powers