Does Combating Corruption Reduce Clientelism?
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.
This project would not have been possible without financial support from AECID and the leadership of Pedro Flores Urbano. We also gratefully acknowledge funding from CAF, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under Insight Grants 488989 and 493141, and the Ontario Work-Study program. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.