Political Institutions and Corruption: An Experimental Examination of the “Right to Recall”
ACRN Research Correspondent Eugen Dimant reviews a new paper on the interrelation between the citizens’ right to "recall" officials and corruption levels.
Corruption is a widespread phenomenon that soaks through societies in different forms and magnitudes. A comprehensive body of empirical work has found corruption to be both an antecedent to and effect of various social, economic and politico-institutional factors (for a comprehensive overview see Dimant, 2014).
In this context, research has been relatively quiet on examining the impact of political institutions on corruption. In this paper, Mansour et al. (2014) contribute to the literature by providing clean experimental evidence on the interrelation between the citizens’ right to recall officials and corruption levels. Being given the chance to recall elected officials, the citizens exert pressure on officials’ behavior. The idea is that such an inherent potential threat might mitigate the officials’ inclination to engage in deviant behavior in the first place. Their results are in line with such expectations: the ability to recall officials and remove them from office represents a salient threat and leads to reduced levels of corruption as a result of increased accountability.
Countries around the world are concerned with corruption as it potentially undermines confidence in government and may reduce the efficiency of public goods provision. While there has been a significant amount of research devoted to identifying the causes of corruption there has been little empirical research on the impact of political institutions on corruption. Given that many nascent governments are establishing new political systems, the time is right for understanding the role that political institutions may play in enhancing or mitigating corruption. This paper uses a series of laboratory experiments to examine the impact of the ‘right to recall government officials’ on the level of government corruption. We find experimental evidence suggesting that such an institution can decrease the level of corruption in government through the increased accountability it imposes on elected politicians, and equity of the system, in terms of income distribution, may also be enhanced.
S. Mansour, V. Sadiraj & S. Wallace, “Political Institutions and Corruption: An Experimental Examination of the Right to Recall”, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2014-05 (2014)
E. Dimant, “The Nature of Corruption - An Interdisciplinary Perspective”, CIE Working Paper Series No. 2014-06 (2014)