BREAD Working Paper No. 619, June 2023

Does Combating Corruption Reduce Clientelism?

Gustavo J. Bobonis, Paul J. Gertler, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, and Simeon Nichter


Does combating corruption reduce clientelism? We examine the impact of a prominent anti-corruption program on clientelism using a novel representative survey of rural Brazilians. Randomized audits reduce politicians’ provision of campaign handouts, decrease citizens’
demands for private goods, and reduce requests fulfilled by politicians. With regards to mechanisms, audits undermine clientelist relationships by reducing citizens’ interactions with politicians and their knowledge of incumbents. Furthermore, audits significantly deteriorate citizens’ perceptions of politician reciprocity in a hypothetical trust game. Results also offer novel insights into audits’ dynamic effects: they have more pronounced effects in the short run, especially during electoral periods. (JEL D72, D73, H83 )


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