The corruption-enhancing role of re-election incentives? Counterintuitive evidence from Brazil's audit reports

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Traditional wisdom on the effect of re-election on incumbent performance is that first-term politicians refrain from rent extraction because they want to be re-elected. The authors find no evidence to support this belief. The corruption-reducing effects of re-election may be offset when the expected utility for rent extraction is very high. This occurs when the likelihood of detecting corruption is very low. Mayors who committed irregularities are less likely to be re-elected when this information is released in the electoral year only. Although citizens hold mayors accountable for bad behavior, they do not do so to the point of discouraging misbehavior.

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