Electoral Accountability and Corruption

This is very replicable research… that is, if we only had reelection… and good data on corruption.

Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments

April 2009
Claudio Ferraz and Frederico Finan

Political institutions can affect corruption. We use audit reports from an anti-corruption program in Brazil to construct new measures of political corruption in local governments and test whether electoral accountability affects the corruption practices of incumbent politicians. We find significantly less corruption in municipalities where mayors can get reelected. Mayors with re-election incentives misappropriate 27 percent fewer resources than mayors without re-election incentives. These effects are more pronounced among municipalities with less access to information and where the likelihood of judicial punishment is lower. Overall our findings suggest that electoral rules that enhance political accountability play a crucial role in constraining politician’s corrupt behavior.