Deterrence, Peer-Effect, and Legitimacy in Anti-Corruption Policy: An Experimental Analysis

Amadou Boly, Robert Gillanders, Topi Miettinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In our framed laboratory experiment, two Public Officials, A and B, make consecutive decisions regarding embezzlement from separate funds. Official B observes Official A’s decisions before making his/her own. We find a contagion effect of embezzlement in that facing a corrupt official A increases the likelihood of embezzlement by Official B. Likewise, deterrence matters in that higher detection probabilities significantly decrease the likelihood of embezzlement. Crucially, when the same deterrence policy applies to both officials, detection is more effective in curbing embezzlement if chosen by an honest public official A rather than a corrupt public official A. This legitimacy effect may help explain why anti-corruption policies can fail in countries where the government itself is believed (or known) to be corrupt.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Legal Studies
Publication statusPublished - 06.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 511 Economics
  • expeirmental economics
  • behavioural economics
  • game theory
  • microeconomics
  • welfare analysis
  • honesty
  • corruption
  • process fairness

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  • GOAL 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • GOAL 01: No Poverty
  • GOAL 03: Good Health and Well-being
  • GOAL 02: Zero Hunger

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