Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior: The Development of Morals after German Reunification

Last registered on May 17, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior: The Development of Morals after German Reunification
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
May 17, 2023, 4:01 PM EDT

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 shedding light on corrupt behavior among individuals of two generations who experienced differing institutional environments. These varying experiences imply a disparate exposure to market conditions, shaping individuals' preferences and beliefs during socialization. We aim to understand whether these experiences affect the inclination toward immoral, here especially corrupt, behavior. Additionally, we explore how adapting institutions to a market-oriented system influences this inclination toward corrupt behavior among different generations. Considering Germany's reunification as a natural experiment for fundamental institutional change in the Eastern part of Germany, we conducted an online study playing an experimental sequential bribery game with East and West Germans (N=168) 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 compared to the older generation who experienced either socialist or market-oriented institutional conditions. Disentangling first-round and multiple-round effects, young East Germans even reveal a greater inclination to bribe compared to their West German counterparts. We conclude that there is an aggravation of immoral behavior among young East Germans who grew up under the tense relationship between market opportunities and conveyed cultural traits of a socialist imprint. Identified immoral behavior among young East Germans may be driven by a negative effect of market-oriented institutions on moral values.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Auer, Thorsten, Timo Berg and Christin Hoffmann. 2023. "Inter- and Intragenerational Differences in Corrupt Behavior: The Development of Morals after German Reunification." AEA RCT Registry. May 17.
Experimental Details


We play a bribery game with different cohorts concerning age and origin in Germany. We implement the game in an online environment matching two players randomly. In one session, several pairs of players simultaneously play the game. After the game, they are directed to a subsequent questionnaire.
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 amount 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 aim to contribute to the literature by running an experiment in an online environment. We use ClassEx in order to run the game online (Giamattei & Lambsdorff, 2019). We 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 dropout 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 * 100 (for the Eastern and Western federal state)
Sample size: planned number of observations
100 students, 100 seniors
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
50 students East Germany, 50 students West Germany, 50 seniors East Germany, 50 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?
Intervention Completion Date
May 18, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
May 18, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
75 subjects from East Germany, 93 subjects from West Germany
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
168 subjects
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
47 students East Germany, 54 students West Germany, 28 seniors East Germany, 39 seniors West Germany
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials