The Power of Example: Corruption Spurs Corruption
The Power of Example: Corruption Spurs Corruption
Nicolás Ajzenman
VOL. 13, NO. 2, APRIL 2021
(pp. 230-57)
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Does political corruption erode civic values and foster dishonest behavior? I test this hypothesis in the context of Mexico by combining data on local government corruption and cheating on school tests. I find that, following revelations of corruption by local officials, secondary students' cheating on cognitive tests increases significantly. The effect is large and robust and persists for over a year after malfeasance is revealed. These findings are validated by evidence from individual survey data, which documents that individuals interviewed right after corruption is revealed report being less honest, less trustworthy, and more prone to thinking that cheating is necessary to succeed, compared to similar individuals interviewed just beforehand.
Ajzenman, Nicolás. 2021. "The Power of Example: Corruption Spurs Corruption." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 13 (2): 230-57.
DOI: 10.1257/app.20180612
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JEL Classification
D72 Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
H70 State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations: General
I21 Analysis of Education
K42 Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
O17 Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
Z13 Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
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