Exposing Corruption: How does electoral competition affect politician behaviour?

Tuesday Seminar
Amrita Dhillon
Date and Time: 
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 12:00am
02:57 PM to 04:27 PM
HSS Committee Room (MS 610)

Abstract (paper co-authored with F. Afridi and E. Solan)

We build a simple game theoretic model to capture the effect of electoral competition on re-election concerns when there is public exposure of corruption through mandated audits of government expenditures. The setting is one where two parties compete in elections, however, the incumbent candidate is fixed to begin with. We show that in equilibrium, corruption has a non-monotonic relationship with electoral competition. If the election is safe for the incumbent (low competition) or if it is extremely fragile (high competition) then corruption is higher, but for intermediate levels of competition, corruption is low. We use the model's predictions to test our hypotheses using data gathered on audit findings of a large public program from Indian villages in a southern state during 2006-10 and on elections to the village council headship in 2006. Our results largely confirm the theoretical results, but also suggest that the impact of electoral competition varies by whether theft is from the public or private component of a good.


Amrita Dhillon is a Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Political Economy at King's College, London. She is also Research Group leader for Quantitive Political Economy. She graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a PhD in 1994. Her training is in theoretical modelling including political economy, public economics, game theory and development. Her main field of research is political economy.