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Partners in Crime: Collusive Corruption and Search

Munirul Nabin () and Gautam Bose

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2008, vol. 8, issue 1, 1-23

Abstract: 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 Once the level of corruption declines, these resources can be withdrawn.

Date: 2008
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