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Reelection incentives and political corruption : evidence from Brazil’s municipal audit reports

By Claudio Ferraz


This paper uses a unique dataset of political corruption, constructed from municipal audit reports obtained from Brazil’s randomized anti-corruption program, to test whether reelection incentives affect the level of rent extraction of incumbent politicians. In order to identify reelection incentives, we use the existence of a term limit in Brazil’s municipal elections. We find that in municipalities where mayors are in their second and final term, there is significantly more corruption compared to similar municipalities where mayors are in their first-term. In particular, in municipalities with second-term mayors there is, on average, R$188,431 more diversion of resources and the incidence of irregularities is 23% higher. We also find more pronounced effects where the costs of rent-extraction are lower (municipalities without media and judicial presence), and the density of pivotal voters is higher (more political competition). Finally, we show that first-term mayors, while less corrupt, have a larger incidence of poor administration suggesting that there may exist a trade-off between corruption and quality in public good provision

Topics: Political Agency, Corruption, Reelection, Public Goods., Eleições - Brasil Corrupção na política - Brasil
Publisher: Escola de Pós-Graduação em Economia da FGV
Year: 2005
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