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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Schirle, Tammy / de Vries, Frans / Zulehner, Christine

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Partners in Crime: Collusive Corruption and Search

Munirul Haque Nabin1 / Gautam Bose2

1Deakin University,

2University of New South Wales,

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 8, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.1926, April 2008

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This paper analyzes corruption as a collusive act which requires the participation of two willing partners. An agent intending to engage in a corrupt act must search for a like-minded partner. When many people in the economy are corrupt, such a search is more likely to be fruitful. Thus when an agent engages in a search, he raises the net benefit of searching for other similar agents in the economy, creating an externality. This introduces a non-convexity in the model, which consequently has multiple equilibria. The economy can be in stable equilibrium with a high or low level of corruption.Starting from the high-corruption equilibrium, a sufficient increase in vigilance triggers a negative cascade, leading the economy to a new equilibrium in which no agent finds it profitable to search for corrupt partners. The no-corruption equilibrium continues to be stable if vigilance is then relaxed. This suggests that the correct way to deal with corruption is to launch a ``big push'' with large amounts of resources. Once the level of corruption declines, these resources can be withdrawn.

Keywords: corruption; search; coordination; vigilance; multiple equilibria

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