Experimental Economics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 113–132 | Cite as

Subject pool effects in a corruption experiment: A comparison of Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students

  • Vivi Alatas
  • Lisa Cameron
  • Ananish Chaudhuri
  • Nisvan Erkal
  • Lata Gangadharan


We report results from a corruption experiment with Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students. Our results suggest that the Indonesian public servant subjects have a significantly lower tolerance of corruption than the Indonesian students. We find no evidence that this is due to a selection effect. The reasons given by the subjects for their behaviour suggest that the differences in behavior across the subject pools are driven by their different real life experiences. For example, when abstaining from corruption, public servants more often cite the need to reduce the social costs of corruption as a reason for their actions, and when engaging in corruption, they cite low government salaries or a belief that corruption is a necessary evil in the current environment. In contrast, students give more simplistic moral reasons. We conclude by emphasizing that results obtained from different subject pools can complement each other in illuminating different aspects of the same problem.


Corruption Experiments Subject pool effects 

JEL Classification

C91 D73 O12 K42 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbink, K. (2006). Laboratory experiments on corruption. In S. Rose-Ackerman (Ed.), International handbook on the economics of corruption. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing Inc. Google Scholar
  2. Abbink, K. (2002). Fair salaries and the moral costs of corruption. Bonn Econ Discussion Papers. Google Scholar
  3. Abbink, K., Irlenbusch, B., & Renner, E. (2002). An experimental bribery game. Journal of Law Economics and Organization, 18(2), 428–454. doi:10.1093/jleo/18.2.428. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alatas, V., Cameron, L., Chaudhuri, A., Erkal, N., & Gangadharan, L. (2008). Gender and corruption: Insights from an experimental analysis. Southern Economic Journal (forthcoming). Google Scholar
  5. Alevy, J., Haigh, M., & List, J. (2006). Information cascades: Evidence from a field experiment with financial market professional. The Journal of Finance (forthcoming). Google Scholar
  6. Bardhan, P. (2006). The economist’s approach to the problem of corruption. World Development, 34(2), 341–348. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.03.011. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barr, A., Lindelow, M., & Serneels, P. (2004). To serve the community or oneself: The public servant’s dilemma. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 3187. Google Scholar
  8. Cadsby, C. B., & Maynes, E. (1998). Choosing between a socially efficient and free-riding equilibrium: Nurses versus economics and business students. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 37(2), 183–192. doi:10.1016/S0167-2681(98)00083-3. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cadsby, C. B., Maynes, E., & Trivedi, V. U. (2006). Tax compliance and obedience to authority at home and in the lab: A new experimental approach. Experimental Economics, 9(4), 343–359. doi:10.1007/s10683-006-7053-8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cameron, L. (1999). Raising the stakes in the ultimatum game: Experimental evidence from Indonesia. Economic Inquiry, 37, 47–59. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cameron, L., Chaudhuri, A., Erkal, N., & Gangadharan, L. (2006). Propensities to engage in and punish corrupt behavior: Experimental evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia, and Singapore. University of Melbourne, Department of Economics, mimeo. Google Scholar
  12. Carbone, E. (2005). Demographics and behaviour. Experimental Economics, 8, 217–232. doi:10.1007/s10683-005-1464-9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cason, T., Gangadharan, L., & Duke, C. (2003). A laboratory testbed for emissions trading in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Ecological Economics, 46, 469–491. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(03)00187-3. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cason, T., & Noussair, C. (2007). A market with frictions in the matching process: An experimental study. International Economic Review, 48(2), 665–691. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2354.2007.00441.x. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Charness, G., & Rabin, M. (2002). Understanding social preferences with simple tests. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117, 817–869. doi:10.1162/003355302760193904. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cooper, D., Kagel, J., Lo, W., & Gu, Q. (1999). Gaming against managers in incentive systems: Experimental results with Chinese students and Chinese managers. The American Economic Review, 89(4), 781–804. Google Scholar
  17. Croson, R., & Gneezy, U. (2004). Gender differences in preferences: A review of economics experiments. opim.wharton.upenn.edu/~crosonr/publications.html.
  18. Davis, D. D., & Holt, C. A. (1993). Experimental economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  19. Fehr, E., & List, J. (2004). The hidden costs and returns of incentives—trust and trustworthiness among CEOs. Journal of the European Economic Association, 2(5), 743–771. doi:10.1162/1542476042782297. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gick, M., & Holyoak, K. (1980). Analogical problem solving. Cognitive Psychology, 12(3), 306–355. doi:10.1016/0010-0285(80)90013-4. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harrison, G., & List, J. (2004). Field experiments. Journal of Economic Literature, 42(4), 1013–1059. doi:10.1257/0022051043004577. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harrison, G., & List, J. (2005). Naturally occurring markets and exogenous laboratory experiments: A case study of the Winner’s curse. www.bus.ucf.edu/wp/content/archives/03-14Glenn.pdf.
  23. Kaufman, D. (2005). 10 myths about governance and coruption. Finance and Development, 42(3), 41–43. Google Scholar
  24. Kovalchik, S., Camerer, C., Grether, D., Plott, C., & Allman, J. (2004). Aging and decision making: A comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 58, 79–94. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2003.12.001. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levitt, S., & List, J. (2006). What do laboratory experiments tell us about the real world? pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/LevittCV.html.
  26. List, J. (2003). Does market experience eliminate market anomalies? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 41–71. doi:10.1162/00335530360535144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Olken, B. (2006). Corruption perceptions vs. corruption reality. http://www.nber.org/~bolken/.
  28. Perkins, D., & Salomon, G. (1988). Teaching for transfer. Educational Leadership, 46(1), 22–32. Google Scholar
  29. Potters, J., & van Winden, F. (1996). The performance of professionals and students in an experimental study of lobbying. papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2067.
  30. Salomon, G., & Perkins, D. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanisms of a neglected phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24(2), 113–142. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep2402_1. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schmitt, P. M. (2004). On perceptions of fairness: The role of valuations, outside options, and information in ultimatum bargaining games. Experimental Economics, 7, 49–73. doi:10.1023/A:1026210021955. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vivi Alatas
    • 1
  • Lisa Cameron
    • 2
  • Ananish Chaudhuri
    • 3
  • Nisvan Erkal
    • 2
  • Lata Gangadharan
    • 2
  1. 1.World BankJakartaIndonesia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations