The dilemma of corruption: a laboratory experiment on the nature of corruption


JIANG Shuguang;CHEN Yefeng


The Center for Economic Research, Shandong University;Post-Doctoral Research Center at Shenzhen Stock Exchange;School of Economics, Zhejiang University;Interdisciplinary Center for Social Sciences, Zhejiang University


Corruption is a cancer of human society, universally existing in every country in every historical period. It violates social justice and hinders economic development, but we still know little about its nature, and the popular principal-agent corruption model cannot provide powerful guidance for anti-corruption practice. We believe one essential aspect of corruption is that it reflects a social dilemma problem. This paper investigates the corruption behavior when agents face a risk of “collective failure,” based on the classic bribery game experiment. Due to the conflict between individual and collective rationality, pervasive corruption is observed during the experiment, causing the group to fall into the “the dilemma of corruption” trap, in which participants’ average payoff is less than the reserve payoff without corruption. This paper also investigates the effects of individual characteristics on corruption including gender, risk preference, level of trust, beliefs about corruption, and pro-social disposition.


corruption;social dilemma;collective failure;experiment


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Total: 57 articles

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