Electoral Accountability And Corruption: Evidence From The Audits Of Local Governments

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Executive Summary

Political institutions can affect corruption. The authors use audit reports from an anti-corruption program in Brazil to construct new measures of political corruption in local governments and test whether electoral accountability affects the corruption practices of incumbent politicians. They find significantly less corruption in municipalities where mayors can get reelected. Mayors with re-election incentives misappropriate 27 percent fewer resources than mayors without re-election incentives. These effects are more pronounced among municipalities with less access to information and where the likelihood of judicial punishment is lower. Overall the findings suggest that electoral rules that enhance political accountability play a crucial role in constraining politician's corrupt behavior.

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