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Cutting the Head off the Snake: An Empirical Investigation of Hierarchical Corruption in Burkina Faso

Adam Salisbury

No 2018-11, CSAE Working Paper Series from Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford

Abstract: This paper exploits a natural experiment to assess whether arresting the head of Burkina Faso’s Customs Ministry for corruption charges had any trickle-down effect on the petty corruption behaviour of lower-ranked customs officials. I measure petty corruption using a unique micro-dataset collated by the USAID West Africa Trade Hub, which records over 257,000 bribes paid by truck-drivers across six West African countries from 2006 to 2012. Using a difference-in-difference methodology, I find that the arrest significantly reduced the bribe-taking behaviour of Burkinabé customs officials relative to non-customs officials in Burkina Faso and to customs officials in three neighbouring countries. These results are robust to a variety of robustness tests and alternative explanations. Overall, my findings support the select use of leadership decapitation as an anti-corruption tool, though the dynamics of the results post-arrest point to the need for further research before its long-term effectiveness can be more confidently asserted.

Keywords: corruption; hierarchies; leadership decapitation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev
Date: 2018
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