Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service: Evidence from India

Hanna, Rema; Wang, Shing-yi (2017)


Hanna, Rema, and Shing-yi Wang. 2017. “Dishonesty And Selection Into Public Service: Evidence From India”. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9 (3): 262-290.
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures to measure corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. A screening process that chooses high-ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption. The findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption.