Markets, Institutions, and Morals: Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior

Last registered on January 04, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Markets, Institutions, and Morals: Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior
Initial registration date
February 10, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 10, 2020, 10:49 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 04, 2022, 2:43 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Paderborn University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
BTU Cottbus
PI Affiliation
BTU Cottbus

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We investigate the suspected detrimental effect of markets on morals by analyzing corrupt behavior of individuals who experienced different institutional environments during their socialization. Additionally, we explore if the adaptation of institutions results in a convergence effect for moral behavior among different generations. Considering the German reunification as a natural experiment for fundamental institutional change for the Eastern part, we conducted an online study (N=168) playing an experimental sequential bribery game with East and West Germans, born distinctly before and after the collapse of the socialist system in East Germany. We find a higher propensity toward corrupt behavior among young Germans who grew up in a market-oriented economy. Disentangling first-round and multiple-round effects, young East Germans did even reveal a higher inclination to bribe compared to their West German counterparts. Contrary, we find the opposite behavior among the older generation. Therefore, we propose a conversion to immoral behavior for the sake of their own advantages among young East Germans, growing up under the tense relationship of market opportunities and conveyed cultural traits of a socialist imprint. We infer a negative effect of market-oriented institutions on moral values, leading to an overcompensating behavior among young East Germans.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Auer, Thorsten, Timo Berg and Christin Hoffmann. 2022. "Markets, Institutions, and Morals: Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. January 04.
Experimental Details


We play a bribery game with different groups concerning age and origin in Germany. We implement both games in an online environment avoiding a strictly laboratory setting and this way being able to include different groups in their natural environment.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Bribery Game: Decisions to make a transfer by one player for the acceptance of a request by the other player. This player decides to accept the transfer first and later the request. They can build a strategy over several rounds for interaction among both players.
Main outcome is the amont of transfer payments and the rate of acceptance by the other player.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Differences between generations and origin of people in Germany
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We intend to contribute to the literature by running an experiment in an online environment. We use ClassEx in order to run the experiments (Giamattei & Lambsdorff, 2019). We aim to collect data for different age groups in East and West Germany.
Regarding the bribery game, pairs will be matched and make concecutive decisions depending on the action of the other player. Decisions will only have an impact on the outcome of the partner.
Experimental Design Details
In the bribery game, one player will decide on a transfer amount, while the other player accepts or rejects the offer and consecutively implements a strategy X or Y with different consequences including a drop out lottery for both players when agreeing on a transfer. This procedure will be repeated over 10 rounds.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by the experimental program's algorithm
Randomization Unit
Overall stratified randomization by age and region.
In the game randomization on the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2 * 120 (for the Eastern and Western federal state)
Sample size: planned number of observations
120 students, 120 seniors
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60 students East Germany, 60 students West Germany, 60 seniors East Germany, 60 seniors West Germany
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics committee of Paderborn University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials