Changing Beliefs, Changing Bribes

This project has been canceled. Researchers will investigate the effect of changing legal penalties, and citizens' beliefs about these penalties, on corruption. They will focus on a single, clear case: the law against riding a motorcycle without a helmet in India, a setting where many citizens pay bribes instead of a formal ticket and are unsure of the true legal fine. The intervention comprises the second and final round of a longer project (funded in part by a GI pilot grant) designed to span a major policy change, during which the fine for riding without a helmet increased by 400 percent. For the intervention, researchers will inform a randomly selected set of motorcyclists of the true legal penalty, using both publicly observable and private information campaigns. Combined with the first round data collected prior to the policy change, this study will capture for the first time how bribes respond to legal changes. The results, both on the intensive and extensive margins of bribery, as well as on the degree of law‐breaking and police enforcement, seek to provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of corruption, as well as direct policy implications for reducing graft.

RFP Cycle:
Off-cycle 2012; Fall 2012
  • Full project
  • Pilot project