Measuring corruption in the field using behavioral games

Alex Armand, Alexander Coutts, Pedro C. Vicente, Ana Inês da Silva Vilela

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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. In corrupt behavior, we identify an important trust dimension captured by a standard trust game.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104799
JournalJournal Of Public Economics
Issue number104799
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Corruption
  • Game
  • Trust
  • Lab-in-the-field
  • Elite capture
  • Citizen
  • Political leader
  • Incentives
  • Behavior


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