Is transparency a blessing or a curse? An experimental horse race between accountability and extortionary corruption

Christoph Engel*, Eyal Zamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

If it is disclosed to a citizen which public official handles her case, this creates accountability. If the official abuses her authority, the citizen can report this misconduct to higher authority, which can intervene. But transparency also makes it possible for a citizen to pressure an official to decide in her favor. We model this interaction as a sequential game, and define which behavioral effects are required for either effect to dominate. We test the game experimentally. Within the parameters of our experiment, transparency clearly trumps anonymity. If the abuse of sovereign authority risks going unchecked, the occasional retaliation against dutiful officials is, on balance, the smaller social cost.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106189
JournalInternational Review of Law and Economics
Volume78
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors

Keywords

  • anonymity
  • experiment
  • extortionary corruption
  • sequential game
  • tax evasion
  • transparency

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