Dhillon A.Nicolò A.Xu, F. (2017)

Corruption, intrinsic motivation, and the love of praise. J Public Econ Theory. 2017191117– 1138.



Do higher wages prevent corruption (bribe taking)? We investigate a setting where individuals who apply for public sector jobs are motivated not just by monetary incentives but also by intrinsic motivation and concern for the collective reputation of their profession. We show that an increase in monetary compensation may cause reputation‐concerned individuals to be more prone to participate in corruption due to an “overjustification” effect. The overall effect of monetary incentives on fighting corruption crucially depends on the composition of the pool of public sector workers for two reasons: first, different types of workers react differently to the same policy; second, the composition of the pool of workers affects individual behavior through its effect on collective reputation. These results imply in particular that policies to fight corruption should focus more on increasing the collective reputation of the public sector rather than using monetary incentives, which have perverse effects on some agents.