Perception of Corruption and Public Support for Redistribution in Latin America

Produced by: 
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Available from: 
June 2017
Paper author(s): 
Esther Hauk
Mónica Oviedo
Xavier Ramos
Topic: 
Fiscal Policy - Public and Welfare Economics
Year: 
2017

This paper studies the relationship between people’s beliefs about the quality of their institutions, as measured by corruption perceptions, and preferences for redistribution in Latin America. Our empirical study is guided by a theoretical model which introduces taxes into Foellmi and Oechslin’s (2007) general equilibrium model of non-collusive corruption. In this model perceived corruption influences people‘s preferences for redistribution through two channels. On the one hand it undermines trust in government, which reduces people‘s support for redistribution. On the other hand, more corruption decreases own wealth relative to average wealth of below-average-wealth individuals leading to a higher demand for redistribution. Thus, the effect of perceived corruption on redistribution cannot be signed a priori. Our novel empirical findings for Latin America suggest that perceiving corruption in the public sector increases people‘s support for redistribution. Although the positive channel dominates in the data, we also and evidence for the negative channel from corruption to demand for redistribution via reduced trust.

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