The Cost of State Officials' Manager's Demand for Bribes

Last registered on July 09, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Cost of State Officials' Manager's Demand for Bribes
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009691
Initial registration date
July 04, 2022

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
July 08, 2022, 9:22 AM EDT

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

Last updated
July 09, 2022, 12:33 PM EDT

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

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Antwerp
PI Affiliation
Université Catholique du Congo
PI Affiliation
Marakuja Kivu Research
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2015-06-19
End date
2015-07-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We analyze the organization of corruption in a state agency. The dual mandate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's traffic police agency is to manage traffic and to enforce the traffic code. We first document that, in the capital's branch, Kinshasa, traffic fines account for only 22% of the revenue generated by the branch. The remaining 78% of revenue comes from bribes paid by drivers. 63% of revenue from bribes is generated through a "quota scheme:'' managers at police stations ask agents posted at street intersections to escort drivers to the stations, where the managers extract a bribe from the drivers themselves. Experimentally decreasing the quota level, hence mitigating its effect, we find that the quota scheme worsens the agency's ability to fulfill its first mandate, while not improving its ability to fulfill the second. First, the quota causes 65% of all traffic jams and almost all accidents at the branch's intersections. Second, we find evidence suggesting that it fuels allegations against drivers that are more often false-extortion-than true, consistent with the scheme not creating incentives to comply with the code. The findings emphasize that the manager's demand for bribes is significant and creates profits and distortions beyond those that would be made possible via corruption by individual state officials.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Lameke, Aimable A. et al. 2022. "The Cost of State Officials' Manager's Demand for Bribes." AEA RCT Registry. July 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9691
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We provided a randomized encouragement to the police station managers to reduce the quotas of some intersections in some days in the battalion.

This generates random variation in the manager's demand for bribes through its main instrument, the quota.

In reducing the quota, we can compare public service under current system of corruption vs. with agent corruption alone. We use this experiment to analyze the social cost of manager organized corruption.
Intervention Start Date
2015-06-20
Intervention End Date
2015-07-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Occurrence of Traffic Accidents
Occurrence of Traffic Jams
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary outcomes labeled as "occurrences" are measured as the number of working hours in the day in which one of the street-observers reports to have witnessed a given event in that hour. The street-observers reported, at the end of each hour block of the day, whether there was a traffic jam, and whether there was an accident in that preceding hour block.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Number of drivers escorted to the police station, by whether they are high-bribe or low-bribe, bribe revenue and fine generated inside the police station and in the street.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Observers inside the police stations working for the police agency and for the fine collection agency, report the details, for each of drivers escorted by agents to the police station, the type of vehicle, the alleged infraction for which a charge is being negotiated over, the first bribe request, the actual bribe payment to the police, the official fine paid to the fine collection agents

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The design leverages that each manager commands multiple teams of agents, and deploys each of his teams permanently to a specific intersection. While agents have some freedom to move between intersections during the day, re-deployment of agents across intersections is rare. The normal channel through which managers communicate the quota to the corresponding teams is a routine phone call placed by the commander to the team leader each morning. In the experimental sample, the mean quota is 6.5 among the untreated team-days. While teams' quotas vary day by day, the typical quota level of each team is well-known (henceforth, natural quota).

Experimental Design Details
For the encouragement design to translate into actual quota reduction, the managers needed to be given compensation for the reduction, and incentives to participate.

First, we compensated managers for the loss that compliance to our quota reduction encouragement would cause. To implement this compensation, we gathered estimates for the revenue generated by each driver at the police station prior to the study, that is, before informing managers that we had the intention to reduce the quota in some days. This timing ensured that managers had no incentives to over-report the revenue per driver. The research team compensated the managers in the moment in which we communicated that a specific team deployed at a given intersection had been selected that day. To ensure compliance within our research team, we created a multi-layered finance monitoring structure tracing the payments made from the project's bank account to a project coordinator, and from the coordinator to the team making the payment, and we hired an auditor to inspect how much each managers received at the end of the day. To reduce the risk that the auditor colluded with the research team staff in charge of delivering the payment to the managers, the auditor was hired through networks from the East of the country, from where he flew for the project.

Second, to provide incentives for managers to comply, our agreement specified that, if the managers did not comply, they would lose future participation in research.
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Assignment of the quota reduction encouragement to days was random within each of the 18 teams, between June 20th and July 20th 2015 (excluding Sundays). That is, the assignment to the quota reduction treatment was random, with teams as randomization strata and team X day as randomization clusters. Since we randomized within team strata, this allowed the number of treated and control days to be the same for each team.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
450 team of agent/days
Sample size: planned number of observations
450 team of agent/days, 900 observations of agents/days
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Planned:
Quota reduction encouragement: 195 team of agents/days
No quota reduction encouragement: 195 team of agents/days
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
This design was developed to detect a 20% decrease in traffic jams and a 5% decrease in accidents with 80% probability.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of California, Berkeley, CPHS
IRB Approval Date
2015-06-30
IRB Approval Number
2015-06-7686
IRB Name
Harvard University CUHS
IRB Approval Date
2015-05-22
IRB Approval Number
IRB15-1973
IRB Name
Harvard University CUHS
IRB Approval Date
2015-06-05
IRB Approval Number
MOD15-1973-01
IRB Name
Antwerp Ethical Advice Commission Social and Human Sciences
IRB Approval Date
2015-05-05
IRB Approval Number
SHW-{15}-{15}

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
July 30, 2015, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
July 30, 2015, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
337 team of agents/days
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
674 team of agents/days
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Encouragement to Quota Reduction: 180 team of agents/days No encouragement to Quota Reduction: 157 team of agents/days
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

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Program Files

Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials