NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Trust and Bribery: The Role of the Quid Pro Quo and the Link with Crime

Jennifer Hunt

NBER Working Paper No. 10510
Issued in May 2004
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE

I study data on bribes actually paid by individuals to public officials, viewing the results through a theoretical lens that considers the implications of trust networks. A bond of trust may permit an implicit quid pro quo to substitute for a bribe, which reduces corruption. Appropriate networks are more easily established in small towns, by long-term residents of areas with many other long-term residents, and by individuals in regions with many residents their own age. I confirm that the prevalence of bribery is lower under these circumstances, using the International Crime Victim Surveys. I also find that older people, who have had time to develop a network, bribe less. These results highlight the uphill nature of the battle against corruption faced by policy-makers in rapidly urbanizing countries with high fertility. I show that victims of (other) crimes bribe all types of public officials more than non-victims, and argue that both their victimization and bribery stem from a distrustful environment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10510

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