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LackingInformationorCondoningCorruption?

VoterAttitudesTowardCorruptioninBrazil
MatthewS.Winters 1
UniversityofIllinoisatUrbanaChampaign
mwinters@illinois.edu

RebeccaWeitzShapiro
BrownUniversity
rbweitz@brown.edu

AwellknownphraseusedtodescribepoliticiansinBrazilisrouba,masfazherobs,
buthegetsthingsdone.Ithasbeenlinkedtoparticularpoliticalfiguresandusedto
explainPresidentLulaspersistentpopularityinspiteofnumerouscorruptionscandals.
Butisitreallythecasethatvotersknowinglyoverlookcorruptionbecauseapolitician
otherwiseperformswell?Or,instead,dovotersfailtoturncorruptpoliticiansoutof
officebecausetheylackreliableinformationaboutcorruption?Resultsfroma
nationwidesurveyexperimentinBrazilsuggestthattheinformationconstraintrather
thananinformedtradeoffexplainsthepersistentpoliticalcorruptionthere.Inthe
experimentalsetting,votersexpressastrongpreferenceforpunishingcorrupt
politicians.Ourfindingshelpustorefineexistinghypothesesabouttheroleof
informationindeterringcorruption,suggestingthatspecific,credible,andaccessible
informationfacilitatesvoterrejectionofcorruptpoliticians.

Thisispartofanongoingcollaborationinwhichthepositionoffirstauthorwillalternatebetweenthe
authors.Bothauthorscontributedequallytothispaper.Apreviousversionofthepaperwaspresented
atthe2010AmericanPoliticalScienceAssociationannualmeeting.Forhelpfulfeedbackatdifferent
stagesoftheproject,weextendourthankstoChristopherAnderson,JakeBowers,DamarysCanache,
SilviaCervellini,JosCheibub,DiegoCorrea,MigueldeFigueiredo,ScottDesposato,DanielGingerich,
JimKuklinski,EduardoLeoni,RoseMcDermott,JeffMondak,DavidNickerson,LucioRenno,Mitch
Seligson,DanTreisman,MilanVaishnav,CaraWong,andCesarZucco,alongwithparticipantsata
seminarattheUniversityofIllinois,UrbanaChampaign.ThankstoAmandaCronkhiteandDiegoCorrea
forresearchassistance.RebeccaWeitzShapirothankstheBrownUniversitySalomonResearchAward
forfunding.Thisresearchwasdeterminedtobeexemptfromhumansubjectsregulationsbythe
DepartmentofPoliticalScienceHumanSubjectsCommitteeattheUniversityofIllinoisatUrbana
ChampaignandbytheResearchProtectionsOfficeatBrownUniversity(Protocol#1005000205).
1

Inrecentdecades,enumeratingtheillconsequencesofcorruptionhasbecomesomethingofa

cottageindustryinbothacademicandpolicycircles. 2 Althoughanearliergenerationofscholars
suggestedthatcorruptionmightplayafunctionalroleinthemodernizationprocess(Leff1964;
Huntington1968),thecurrentacademicconsensuspointsinsteadtothenegativeconsequencesof
corruption.Incrossnationalstudies,corruptionisrepeatedlylinkedtolowerinvestmentandeconomic
growth(Mauro1995;Lambsdorff1996;Bardhan1997;WorldBank1997b;Treisman2000;see
Lambsdorff2006forareview).Corruptionmaynotonlylimitoverallgrowth,butalsoincreasepoverty
andincomeinequality(Gupta,DavoodiandAlonsoTerme2002;Li,XuandZou2000andGyimah
Brempong2002).Furthermore,inademocracy,corruptionunderminesthequalityofrepresentation
whenelectedpoliticiansmakedecisionsmotivatedbythedesireforpersonalenrichmentratherthan
thepreferencesofthevoterswhoelectedthem(RoseAckerman1978;Morris1991).
GiventhenegativeoutcomesofcorruptiondocumentedbyscholarsandpublicizedbyNGOs,we
shouldexpectcitizenstorejectcorruption,aswell.Itisnosurprise,then,thatcitizensincountrieswith
higherlevelsofcorruptionexpresslowerlevelsofsystemsupportthantheircounterpartsinlesscorrupt
countries(Rose,MishlerandHaerpfer1998;Pharr2000;MishlerandRose2001;Seligson2002;
AndersonandTverdova2003).Wemightalsoexpecttoobservedifferentlevelsofcorruptionacross
differentregimetypes.Assumingthatcitizensdisapproveofcorruption,andgiventhat,bydefinition,
democraciesprovidecitizenswiththerighttochoosetheirleaders,wewouldexpectthoseregimes
wherecitizenshavethemostpowertoselecttheirleaderstosufferfromtheleastcorruption.The

2
Bycorruption,wemeantheabuseofpublicofficeforprivategain(Nye1967;WorldBank1997a).Our
focusinthispaperisonpoliticalcorruptiontheinvolvementofelectedofficeholdersincorruptacts
asdistinguishedfrombureaucraticcorruption,whichinvolvesunelectedpublicservants.(Thisusageis
notuniversal;seeHeidenheimer,JohnstonandLeVine1989.)Mostempiricalmeasuresofcorruptiondo
notdistinguishbetweenthetwo.

evidence,however,isatbestmixedonthispoint.AccordingtoKeeferandVlaicu(2008,372),in2004
morethanonethirdofalldemocraciesexhibitedasmuchormorecorruptionthanthemediannon
democracy.Variouscrossnationalanalysesfindnoconclusiveevidencethatdemocraciesareless
corruptthantheirnondemocraticcounterparts(Lambsdorff2006,Treisman2007).Whatcouldexplain
theapparentinabilityofdemocracytomoresharplydecreasecorruption?
Theexistenceofpersistent,pervasivepoliticalcorruptioninademocracymeans,bydefinition,
thatmanyvoterscasttheirballotsforcorruptpoliticians.Althoughmostexplanationsofcorruption
focusoninstitutionaloreconomicfactors,weturninthispapertotheindividuallevel.Theliterature
pointstotwomainpossibleexplanationsforwhyvoterssupportcorruptpoliticians.Thefirst,whichwe
calltheinformationhypothesis,suggeststhatvoterssupportcorruptpoliticianswhentheylack
informationaboutacandidatesinvolvementincorruptionuponwhichtheythencouldactinthevoting
booth.Thesecond,whichwecallthetradeoffhypothesis,suggeststhatvotersknowinglycastballots
forcorruptpoliticiansbecausetheyexpectthattheoverallbenefitsthataccruefromapoliticiansterm
inofficewillbegreaterthanthecostsassociatedwithcorruption.Inthispaper,wetestthese
hypothesesusingdatafromanationallyrepresentativesurveyexperimentinBrazil.

Brazilhashistoricallysufferedfromhighlevelsofcorruption,aphenomenonthathaspersisted

inspiteoftheadventandconsolidationofBraziliandemocracyinthedecadessincethemid1980s(e.g.
GeddesandRibeiroNeto1992;Fleischer1997).Indeed,KurtWeyland(1998)arguesthatthecostsof
corruptionreachedrecordhighsinBrazilafterthetransitiontodemocracy.Eventheadministrationof
PresidentLuizIncioLuladaSilva,atthehelmofapartythatmadehonestyacentralthemeofits
campaigns(Ward2006),wasrackedbyaseriesofinfluencepeddlingandkickbackscandalsthatresulted
indozensofarrestsandtheresignationofacabinetminister.Inspiteofthesescandals,Lulawas
resoundinglyelectedtoasecondterminofficeandretainedunusuallyhighlevelsofpublicapproval.In

thewordsofthreescholarsofBrazilianpolitics,[t]heconventionalunderstandingofcorruptioninBrazil
suggestsimpunityreigns(Pereira,Renn,andSamuelsND).
InBrazil,thetradeoffexplanationissuccinctlysummarizedbythewellknownPortuguese
phraserouba,masfaz(herobs,buthegetsthingsdone).Thephraseitselfissufficientlywidespread
that,accordingtopopularlegend,awellknowncongressmanandformermayorofthecityofSoPaulo,
PauloMaluf,tookmaluf@masfaz.comashisemailaddress. 3 Directsurveyquestionsthataskabout
respondentsattitudestowardsrouba,masfazsuggestthatitenjoysthesupportofasubstantial
minorityofthepopulation.Inonesurveyfromtheyear2000,47percentofrespondentssaidthey
wouldpreferamayorwhowasnottotallyhonestaslongasheresolvedamunicipalitysproblems,
whereasonly40percentclaimedtheywouldpreferatotallyhonestmayor,evenifhewerenotthat
efficient(Figueiredo2004). 4 Similarly,a2002surveyfinds40percentofrespondentsagreewiththe
statementthatapoliticianwhocarriesoutalotofpublicworks,evenifherobsalittle,isbetterthana
politicianwhocarriesoutfewpublicworksanddoesnotrobatall(Almeida2006,45). 5

Ontheotherhand,thereissomeaggregateandindividualleveldatathatsuggestBrazilian

votersdopunishcorruptionwhentheylearnaboutit.Theinformationhypothesisfindssupportin

Theoriginsofthephrasedatebackatleasttothe1950s,whereitwastheinformalcampaignsloganof

thepoliticianAdhemardeBarros,alternatelygovernorandmayorofSoPaulobetweenthe1940sand
1960s(VillamaCotta2008;QueirozandManhanelli2009).
4

InPortuguese,respondentswereaskedwhethertheywouldpreferumprefeitoquenosejato

honesto,masresolvaosproblemasdomunicpioorumprefeitototalmentehonesto,mesmoqueno
sejatoeficiente.
5

Thesedataarefromthe2002Braziliannationalelectionstudy(ESEB).InPortuguese,respondents

wereaskedwhethertheyagreedthatmelhorunpolticoquefaamuitasobras,mesmoqueroube
umpouco,doqueumpoltcoquefaapoucasobrasenaoroubenada.

recentstudiesatthemunicipallevelshowingthat,atleastundersomeconditions,voterswillturn
mayorsoutofofficewhenmunicipalauditsundertakenbythenationalorstategovernmentuncover
corruptionlinkedtotheiradministrations(FerrazandFinan2008;Pereira,Melo,andFigueiredo2009).
Similarly,othershaveshownthatnationaldeputiesaccusedofcorruptactsarelesslikelytorunfor
reelectionandlesslikelytowinreelectioniftheydorun(Pereira,Renn,andSamuelsND).Afield
experimentconductedinSoPaulothatprovidedvoterswithinformationaboutcorruptionallegations
againsttwocandidatesrunningformayorproducedsomeevidencethatvotersmayvoteagainstcorrupt
politiciansorelseoptnottoturnouttovote(deFigueiredo,HidalgoandKashara2010).
Tobetterunderstandvoterattitudestowardcorruptionandtheextenttowhicheachofthese
twoexplanationsaccountsforcorruptioninBrazil,wemakeuseofanationwideembeddedsurvey
experiment.Ourfindingsdonotsupporttheclaimthattherouba,masfaztradeoffattitudeis
widespreadinBrazilbutinsteadaremoreconsistentwiththehypothesisthataninformationproblem
explainsthecontinuedpervasivenessofpoliticalcorruptioninBrazil.Exceptforsomesmallsubsetsof
thepopulation,ourresultssuggestthat,whentheylearnaboutit,Brazilianvotersarenottolerantof
corruptionandareunlikelytosupportcorruptpoliticiansevenifthesepoliticiansotherwiseperform
well.Ingeneral,wherevoterscanclearlyattributecorruptactstoparticularpoliticians,theyappear
willingtopunishthosepoliticianselectorally.Ourresultsalsosuggesttheneedtofurtherrefinethe
informationhypothesistounderstandtheconditionsunderwhichinformationaboutcorruptionwillin
factpromptanegativeresponseamongvoters.Beforeturningtotheresults,wefirstdescribeinmore
depthwhyvotersmaycasttheirvotesforcorruptcandidatesandreviewtheextantliteratureonvoter
responsestocorruption.
WhyDoVotersSupportCorruptPoliticians?

Scholarshaveproposedanumberofexplanationsforthedisparitiesintheamountofcorruption

acrosscountries.Someattributevaryinglevelsofcorruptiontodifferencesinelectoralorpolitical

institutions.Federalismandpresidentialismhavebeenlinkedtoincreasedcorruption,whereas
decentralizationandpluralityelectionsforlegislatorsareassociatedwithlowerlevelsofcorruption
(Treisman2000;FismanandGatti2002;Adsera,BoixandPayne2003;Persson,TabelliniandTrebbi
2003;GerringandThacker2004;KunicovaandRoseAckerman2005;GoldenandChang2006).Others
haveexploredwhetherregulatorysystemsandtheavailabilityofrentscreateincentivesforcorruption
(ShleiferandVishny1993;Djankov,etal.2002;AdesandDiTella1999).Beyondinstitutional
explanations,inheritedorculturalattributesmightexplainasocietystoleranceofcorruption(LaPorta,
etal1999;Treisman2000;FismanandMiguel2006).Otherauthorshavesuggestedthatcountriescan
becomestuckinatrapwherethepoolofavailablecandidatesincludesonlycorruptpoliticians(Kurer
2001;CaselliandMorelli2004;MessnerandPolborn2006).

Here,incontrast,wefocusonunderstandingtheindividualbehaviorofvotersinademocracy.

Withoutthesupportknowingorunknowingofvoters,corruptpoliticianswouldnotsurvive
electorally.Weexaminetheextenttowhichanindividualschoicetovoteforacorruptpoliticiancanbe
explainedeitherbyalackofinformationorbyarationaltradeoff.Althoughnotmutuallyexclusive,
thesehypothesesareaddressedindifferentliteratures,andsoweaddressthemseparatelybelow.
TheInformationHypothesis
Thereareanumberofreasonswhy,eveninademocracy,informationaboutcorruptionmaybe
limited.Forobviousreasons,politicianswilltrytoconcealtheirillicitactivities.Lackofresourcesand
professionalizationamongthemediaacuteproblemsespeciallyamongmiddleandlowincome
democracies(FreedomHouse2010)arelikelytomakeeffortsatobfuscationmoresuccessful.Then,
insofarasvotersarenotawareofcorruption,theycannotvoteagainstcorruptcandidates(Rose
Ackerman1978;Geddes1994). 6 Evenwhenallegationsofcorruptionaremadepublic,votersmay
discountthesereports,especiallyiftheytaketheformofpoliticallymotivatedpartisanaccusations

6
Rundquist,StromandPeters(1977)refertothisastheignorantvoterexplanationforcorruption.

(Rundquist,StromandPeters1977).Ifalackofinformationexplainsvotersupportforcorrupt
politicians,weexpectvoterstowithdrawsupportfromcorruptpoliticiansinsettingswhereinformation
isavailable.
Althoughnotalwaysstatedexplicitly,muchofthecrosscountryresearchoncorruption
assumesthattheinformationhypothesisforthepersistenceofcorruptionholdstrue.Forinstance,
Treismanarguesthatdemocracieshavelesscorruptionbecauseexposure[is]morelikelyin
democraciesimplyingthat,afterexposureoccurs,voterswillremovecorruptpoliticiansfromoffice
(1998:6).GerringandThacker(2005)similarlypostulatethatincreasedopennessandtransparency
shouldbeassociatedwithalowerincidenceofcorruption.Adser,Boix,andPayne(2003)arguethat,if
votershavemechanismsavailabletoholdpoliticiansaccountable(suchasdemocraticelections),thenas
informationprovisionincreases,corruptionshoulddecrease.Atanextreme,theyexpectthat,with
perfectlyinformedvoters,politiciansrent[fromcorruption]shoulddisappear(448).
Thepastfewyearshaveseentheemergenceofanumberofnaturalandfieldexperimentsthat
testtheinformationhypothesis. 7 Theserelyonaggregatedataattheprecinct,pollingstation,or
municipallevel,andhavefoundmixedsupportfortheinformationhypothesis.Afieldexperiment
carriedoutinruralIndia(Banerjeeetal.2010)findsthatprimingvotersaboutcorruptioningeneralhas
noeffectoneithervoterturnoutorthesupportpoliticiansreceiveatpollingstations.Lookingacross
precinctsinasurveycarriedoutinMexico,Chongetal.(2010)findthatinformationabouthighlevelsof
corruptiondepressesturnoutandhasamarginallysignificantnegativeeffectontheincumbentsvote
share.InBrazil,FerrazandFinan(2008)takeadvantageofnaturalexperimentsgeneratedby
randomizedfederalauditingofmunicipalitiesandfindthattheinformationaboutcorruptiongenerated

Pande(2011)providesasummaryofmanyoftheseworks,aswellasotherexperimentalworkdealing

withtheeffectofvoterinformationonthequalityofgovernance.

bytheseaudits,especiallyinmunicipalitieswithlocalradiostations,decreasessupportforincumbent
mayors. 8
Attheindividuallevel,severalpreviousstudieshaveusedexperimentaltechniquestoexplore
thewaysinwhichvotersreacttoinformationaboutdifferentcharacteristicsofpoliticalcandidates.
Althoughtheydonotexaminecorruptionspecifically,theseresultsaregenerallyconsistentwiththe
expectationsoftheinformationhypothesis.Forexample,aseriesofarticlesfindsthatcitizensreact
negativelytoinformationthatpoliticiansaredishonestorlackintegrity(KulisheckandMondak1996;
Canache,MondakandCabrera2000;MondakandHuckfeldt2006).Scholarshavealsofoundthat
differenttypesofvotersresponddifferentlytoinformationaboutcorruption.Rundquist,Stromand
Peters(1977),forexample,concludethatindividualswhocareabouthonestyingovernmentarethe
mostlikelytopunishcorruptcandidates.
Ourworkexaminestheinformationhypothesiswithrespecttocorruptionusingindividuallevel
data.Embeddingtheexperimentintoasurveyallowsustolookathowtheeffectsoftreatmentvaryfor
differentsectorsofthepopulation.Also,importantly,oursurveyexperimentteststheinformation
hypothesisalongsidealternatehypothesesabouttherelationshipbetweencorruptionandvoting
behavior.Specifically,weexaminethetradeoffhypothesis,whichhasdeepresonanceinBrazil.
TheTradeoffHypothesis
Thesecondexplanationforvoterbehaviorsuggeststhatvotersknowinglyelectcorrupt
politicianswhenthosepoliticiansprovidevoterswithothervaluablebenefits.Inotherwords,this
explanationpositsthatvotersmakeastrategictradeoff,overlookingcorruptionwhenpoliticiansdeliver

8
Althoughtheydonotuseexperimentaldata,Pereira,Melo,andFiugueiredo(2009)examinestate
levelcorruptionauditsandfindthatcorruptionallegationsmadeimmediatelypriortoanelection
depressamayorsprobabilityofreelection,butthatcorruptionallegationsmadepublicatatimefarther
fromelectionshavenosucheffect.

otherpositivelyvaluedoutcomes. 9 IntheBraziliancontext,thislogicofastrategictradeoffis
communicatedbythephraserouba,masfaz.
Thetradeoffexplanationtakesanumberofdifferentforms.Thefirstsaysthatifthepolitician
deliverseconomicgrowthorotherpublicgoodsthencitizenswillacceptsomelossesfrompubliccoffers
becauseoverallthegovernmentmachineryperformswellunderthehelmofthecorruptpolitician.If
thisisthecase,thenvotersshouldsupportcorruptpoliticianswherethosepoliticiansotherwiseactas
competentpublicservants,whereasacorruptandpoorlyperformingpoliticianshouldnotbereturned
tooffice.Althoughthismaybethemostcommoninterpretationofthetradeoffexplanation,itisalso
possiblethatcitizensoverlookcorruptioninexchangeforeitherprivategoodsorideologicalsatisfaction.
Rundquist,StromandPeters(1977)discussbothpossibilities:votersmayreceiveorexpectpatronageor
otherparticularisticbenefitsfromcorruptpoliticians,orvotersmightsupportacorruptpoliticianifhe
morecloselymirrorstheirideologicalpreferences. 10
Wefocusoureffortsonexaminingtheprimaryconceptualizationofthetradeoffexplanation
thatcitizensmayoverlookcorruptionwhenpoliticiansdeliverbroadpublicbenefits.Thisisthe
dominantscholarlyandpopularinterpretationofthephraserouba,masfazinBrazil.Forexample,
PresidentLulaselectoralsuccessin2006,whichfolloweduponbothcorruptionscandalsandaperiodof
impressiveeconomicgrowth,hasbeenexplainedwithreferencetothisphrase(Desposato2006;Renno
2007,ND). 11 Similarly,Brazilianpublicopinionsurveysthataskdirectlyaboutthetradeoffbetween

Athirdpossibilityisthat,allelseequal,votersactuallyprefercorruptpoliticians.Althoughtheoretically

possible,weviewthisasimplausibleanddonotexploreithere.
10

SeeManzettiandWilson(2007)andChangandKerr(2009)forsomeevidenceforthepatronage

hypothesis.
11

Samuels(2004,2008),however,doesnotfindthatPTvotersareactuallymorelikelythanothervoters

toexpresssupportfortherouba,masfazprinciple.

corruptionandotherdimensionsofperformancealsoreflectthisunderstandingofthephrase,referring,
forexampletoefficiency,resolvingtheproblemsofthemunicipality,orcarryingoutpublicworks
asfactorsthatmightexcusecorruptbehavior. 12
Thesalienceofthetradeoffexplanationmayvaryacrossgroups.Buildingonpreviousliterature,
weexplorethepossibilitythattherearedifferentreactionsacrosssocialclassesandacrosssubsetsof
peoplewithdifferentlevelsofpoliticalknowledge.Someexistingliteraturearguesthatthepoor
becauseofthepressuresofmeetingbasicneedsarelesslikelytohavethetimeorinclinationtocare
aboutthequalityofgovernance(Kurer2001;Blake2009).Empirically,Figueiredo(2004)findssignificant
classdifferencesinthepatternsofresponsestothequestionaboutsupportingacorruptyetcompetent
mayor.Amongrespondentsinthetwolowestincomebrackets,54percentclaimedtopreferthecorrupt
butcompetentmayor,whereaswillingnesstosupportsuchamayordropsto40percentand32percent,
respectively,amongthetoptwoincomebrackets.Pereira,Renn,andSamuels(ND:86)similarlyreport
aninverserelationshipbetweenSESandsupportforcorruptyetcompetentpoliticians.Accordingtothe
2002BrazilianNationalElectionSurvey(ESEB),theshareofvoterswhosaidtheywouldsupporta
corruptbutcompetentpoliticiandroppedsteadilyaseducationincreased.While53percentofvoters
withnoeducationsaidtheywouldoffersuchsupport,only25percentofrespondentswithatleast
somecollegeeducationsaidso. 13

12
See,forexample,theIBOPEsurveycitedinFigueiredo2004andtheESEBsurveycitedinAlmeida
2006.
13

Thoughnotaskingaboutrouba,masfazdirectly,crossnationaldatafromLatinAmericaalsosupports

thesefindings.Blake(2009:104)findsanegativecorrelationinLatinAmericanWorldValuesSurveydata
betweenincomeandtoleranceforcorruption.Ontheotherhand,usingWVSdatafromasampleof35
countries,Gatti,Paternostro,andRigolini(2003)findthatthewealthyareactuallymoretolerantof
corruption.

10

Similarly,inlookingattheimpactofpoliticalscandalonvoteintentioninalaboratory
experiment,Funk(1996)findsdifferentialresponsestoscandalinthefaceofpoliticiancompetence
amongthepoliticallyknowledgeable.Specifically,whenpoliticiansaredescribedascompetent,the
politicallyknowledgeablerespondentsinherstudywereforgivingofmaritalinfidelitybutnotforgiving
oftaxevasion,whereasthoserespondentswhoscoredlowonpoliticalknowledgewerenotwillingto
forgiveeither.Funkarguesthatthisresultisconsistentwithotherresearchthatfindspolitical
knowledgeisassociatedwithgreatercognitivecomplexitytoprocesspoliticalinformation(1996:16).
Insummary,weproposetwopossibleexplanationsforwhyavotermightcastherballotfora
corruptpolitician.Ontheonehand,shemaylackinformationaboutpoliticalcorruptionandthus
unwittinglysupportacorruptpolitician.Ontheotherhand,shemayknowinglyvoteforacorrupt
politician,calculatingthatthepoliticiansanticipatedperformanceinofficeoutweighsthedrawbacksof
corruptbehavior.Previousresearchprovidessomeevidenceconsistentwitheachofthesemechanisms
buthasnottestedthemsimultaneously.Inthispaper,weexplorethesetwohypothesestogetherinthe
contextofayoungdemocracyknownforwidespreadcorruption.ResearchinBrazilhasbothasserted
therelevanceofarouba,masfazattitudeamongvotersdrawingmostlyondirectsurveydataand
yetalsoshownthat,intheaggregate,voterswithdrawsupportfrompoliticianswhoarefoundtobe
corrupt.Weuseindividualleveldataandanexperimentaldesigntoexaminewhichhypothesisbetter
capturestheattitudesofpresentdayBrazilianvoters.
ResearchDesign:AnEmbeddedSurveyExperiment

Whenaskedaboutasensitivetopicinapublicopinionpoll,respondentsmayreplytoquestions

withsociallyconforminganswersratherthantheirgenuineopinions.Inthecaseofcorruption,we
worrythatsomevoterswhowillexpressdisapprovalofcorruptionwhenaskeddirectlyinfacthave
morecomplexattitudes.Inoursurveyexperiment,ratherthandirectlyaskingrespondentstheirviews
oncorruption,weinsteadrandomlyassignedeachrespondenttohearoneof12differentvignettes,

11

varyingtheinformationthattheyreceivedaboutahypotheticalincumbentpoliticianspastcorruption
andgeneralcompetenceinprovidingpublicworks.Wealsovariedinformationaboutthepoliticians
politicalparty.Randomassignmenttothevignettesensuresthat,onaverage,thesegroupsare
indistinguishableonbothobservableandunobservablecharacteristics.Bycomparingaverageresponses
tostandardsurveyquestionsacrossthegroupsassignedtothedifferentvignettes,weareableto
identifythecausaleffectofreceivinginformationaboutcorruptiononsurveyresponses. 14
Ourbasicvignettereadasfollows 15 (withthephrasesinbracketsbeingsubstitutedin

alternativeversionsofthevignette):
ImagineapersonnamedGabriel{orGabriela},whoisapersonlikeyou,livingina
neighborhoodlikeyours,butinadifferentcityinBrazil.ThemayorofGabrielscityis
runningforreelectioninOctober.HeisamemberofthePT[PartidodosTrabalhadores]
{orPSDB[PartidodaSocialDemocraciaBrasileira]}.InGabrielscity,itiswellknown
thatthemayornevertakesbribes{orfrequentlytakesbribes}whengivingout
governmentcontracts.Themayorhascompletedfew{ormany;oromittheentire
sentence}publicworksprojectsduringhisterminoffice.Inthiscity,theelectionfor
mayorisexpectedtobeveryclose.

Theidentityofthehypotheticalvoter(GabrielorGabriela)waschosenbytheenumeratortomatchthe
respondentsgender. 16 Thepartisanidentityofthemayor,whetherthemayorwasknownfortaking

Formoreonsurveyexperiments,seeSnidermanandGrob1996;Druckmanetal.2006;andGaines,

14

KuklinskiandQuirk2007.
15

ThisvignetteissimilartothatdescribedinWeitzShapiro(2008)andalsodrawsonthewordingof

vignettesincludedinthe2006MexicoPanelStudy(Lawsonet.al2007).
16

Weusedthisthirdpersonpromptfortworeasons.First,wewantedrespondentstoabstractfrom

theirownexperienceandfromthecharacteristicsofelectedofficialsintheirownmunicipalities.
Second,wehopedtoreducesocialdesirabilitybias(DeMaio1984;Nederhof1985)intheresponsesof
thosewhowereinoneofthecorruptiontreatmentgroups.Giventheculturalvisibilityofrouba,mas
fazinBrazil,weassumethatrespondentswhogiveanswerstheybelieveareconsistentwiththe

12

bribesornot,andwhetherthemayorhadcompletedmanyorfewpublicworksprojects(orifthis
informationwasnotprovidedtotherespondent)wereallrandomizedacrossrespondents. 17

Immediatelyfollowingthevignette,respondentswereasked,Inyouropinion,whatisthe

likelihoodthatGabriel(a)willvoteforthismayorinthenextelection:verylikely,somewhatlikely,
unlikely,notatalllikely?Theresponsetothisquestionservesasourmainoutcomevariableof
interest.Forallanalysesinthispaper,wecollapseittoadichotomousvariableindicatingpositiveor
negativevoteintention. 18 AlthoughthequestionasksaboutGabrielasvotingbehavior,recallthatwe
promptrespondentstoconsiderGabrielatobeapersonlikeyou,livinginaneighborhoodlikeyours.
Wethereforetreatresponsestothisquestionasiftheyindicatedtherespondentsownpreference. 19

typicalBraziliansviewpointwouldclaimtobemoreforgivingofcorruption.Thebiasfromthedesign,
then,wouldincreasethelikelihoodoffindingsupportforthetradeoffhypothesis.Giventhelackof
evidencewefindforthishypothesisinthedata,anybiasgeneratedbythisaspectofthevignettedesign
appearsminimal.
17

Hencetherewereatotalof2X2X3=12randomlyassignedvignettes.Assignmenttookplacein

advanceofdistributionofthesurveysandwasstratifiedatthecensustractlevel.Enumeratorsreceived
surveyswithdifferentvignettespreprintedinthem.Notethatwedonotdescribeapotential
challenger.Wemadethischoiceinparttolimitthetotalnumberoftreatmentgroupstoareasonable
amount.Althoughtheabsenceofchallengerinformationmayaddnoisetothedata,itwillnotbiasthe
resultsaslongasthereisnosystematiccorrelationbetweentreatmentcategoriesandtheassumptions
thatrespondentsmightmakeaboutachallenger.
18

Wehavereproducedthemainresultsusingorderedlogisticregressionwiththeoriginalfourcategory

variableastheoutcomevariable.Theycanbefoundintheonlineappendix.
19

Tosimplifythepresentation,wesometimesreferinthetexttotherespondentsvotechoice,rather

thanthatofGabriel(a),butthisquestionwasinallcasesaskedaboutGabriel(a).Somefollowup

13

Thesurveywasadministeredinsummer2010byIBOPE,thelargestpublicopinionpolling

companyinBrazil,aspartoftheirmonthlyomnibussurvey(N=2,002).Ourquestionswerethefirst
blockonthesurvey,sorespondentsheardthevignetteimmediatelyafteransweringasmallsetof
demographicquestionsthatdeterminedtheireligibilityforthesurvey.IBOPEsampled140citiesusinga
probabilityproportionaltosizemethodwithin25strata. 20 Thencensustractswereselectedusinga
probabilityproportionaltosizemethodwithstratificationacrosszonesofmajormetropolitanareas.
Enumeratorsrecruitedindividualrespondentsaccordingtoaquotasamplingschemedesignedto
producearepresentativesampleofthenationalpopulationintermsofage,gender,educationand
occupationalcategory.

Table1presentsthesixtreatmentconditionsignoringthevariationintheannouncedpartyof

theincumbentmayorandthevariableineachcellrepresentstheproportionofrespondentsinthat
treatmentconditionwhosaythatGabriel(a)iseitherverylikelyorsomewhatlikelytovoteforthe
mayor. 21

Totheextenttheinformationhypothesisiscorrect,andvotersreactnegativelywhenthey

discoverthatapoliticianiscorrupt,thenweexpecttoseethatrespondentsarelesslikelytoexpress
supportforthemayorinthecorruptiontreatmentconditionsascomparedtothenocorruption
treatmentconditions(i.e.B4<B1;B5<B2;andB6<B3).Totheextentthetradeoffhypothesisiscorrect,

questions,especiallythosenotsubjecttopotentialproblemsofsocialdesirabilitybias,askedthe
respondentdirectlyabouthisorheropinionofthemayor,ratherthanaboutGabriel(a)slikelybehavior.
20

Thesestrataweredefinedby25ofBrazils27statesthemonthlysurveyrotatesamongthreesmall

statesinthenorthernregionofthecountry.
21

Inthispaper,wedonotexploretheroleofpartyID.Wefindthatpartisanshiphaslittleornoeffecton

responses.Infuturework,wewillexploretheinteractionofpartisanshipandattitudestowards
corruptioninmoredetail.

14

andvotersarewillingtoforgivecorruptioninthefaceofcompetenceorgoodperformance,thenwe
expecttoseeseveralpatternsinthedata.First,weexpecttoseelesspunishmentofcorruptionas
competenceincreases(i.e.(B4B1)<(B5B2)).Second,weexpecttoseethatcompetentbutcorrupt
politicianswillbeweaklypreferredtoincompetentbutcleanpoliticians(i.e.B4>B2).Notethatthese
twohypothesesarenotexclusive.Itistheoreticallypossibletofindevidenceforboththeinformation
hypothesisandthetradeoffhypothesisinthedata.
ExperimentalValidity

Beforeturningtotheresults,wefirstdiscusstheexperimentsvalidity,bothinternaland

external.Beginningwiththeformer,wecheckthatthevignetteswereappropriatelyrandomizedand
thatrespondentsarenotsystematicallydifferentacrossvignettes.Todothis,weruntwomultinomial
logitmodelswherethe12categoriesoftreatmentassignmentdefinetheoutcomevariable.We
compareanullmodelwithnopredictorstoamodelwithpredictorsforgender,age,education,social
class,indicatorsforemploymentstatus,anindicatorforbeingCatholic,anindicatorforbeingreligious,
anindicatorforbeingnonwhite,indicatorsforbeingalikelyPSDBorPTvoterandindicatorsforbeinga
PSDBorPTpartisan.Alikelihoodratiotestfailstorejectthenullhypothesisthatthetwomodelsare
indistinguishable(p<0.93),meaningthatnomeaningfulcorrelationsaredetectedacrossthetreatment
conditionsandrespondentcharacteristics.Thisvalidatesthesuccessoftherandomization.

Wealsocheckwhetherrespondentsunderstoodthepromptsintheexpectedmanner.Do
respondentstreatinformationaboutbribetakingasevidenceofcorruption,anddotheytreat
informationaboutaccomplishingpublicworksasevidenceofapoliticianscompetenceorcapacity?We
checkthisbyexaminingcorrelationsbetweenthedifferentstimuliandrespondentsanswerstofollow
upquestionsinthesurvey.Askedifthemayorwastrustworthy,thoseinthecorruptiontreatments
were66percentagepointslesslikely(p<0.00)tosaythatthemayorwasveryorsomewhattrustworthy
thanthoseinthenoncorruptiontreatments.Similarly,respondentswhoweretoldthatthemayorhad

15

accomplishedmanypublicworksprojectswere23percentagepoints(p<0.00)morelikelytosaythat
themayorwasverycompetentorsomewhatcompetentatsecuringfederalfundsforthemunicipalityas
comparedtothoserespondentswhoweretoldthatthemayorhadaccomplishedfewpublicworks
projects.Theseresultssuggestthatrespondentsunderstoodtheinformationaboutbribesandpublic
worksprovisionaswehadintended.
Rouba,masfazorNot?

Ourmaintestoftheinformationandtradeoffhypothesesexaminesresponsestothefirst

questionthosesurveyedheardafterthevignetteInyouropinion,howlikelyisitthatGabriel(a)would
voteforthismayorinthenextelection?Totheextentthattheinformationhypothesisholdstrue,we
wouldexpectcorruptpoliticianstoreceivelesssupportthancleanpoliticiansatalllevelsofpolitician
performance,andtheelectoralcostsofcorruptionshouldbeapproximatelyequalacrosslevelsof
politiciancompetence.Totheextentthatthetradeoffhypothesisholds,weexpectthecostsof
corruptiontodecreaseascompetenceincreasesandforcorruptbutcompetentpoliticianstoreceive
equalorgreatersupportthancleanbutincompetentpoliticians.
Table2displaystheproportionofpeopleineachtreatmentcategorywhosaidGabriel(a)would
votefortheincumbentmayor.Theresultsprovidesubstantialsupportfortheinformationhypothesis
andarenotatallconsistentwiththeexistenceofarouba,masfaztradeoffdynamic.Thefirstcolumn
showsthat,acrossallrespondents,thereisaverystrongnegativereactiontocorruption.Theaverage
shareofrespondentswillingtovoteforacandidatedescribedasnoncorruptis78%,butonly19%are
willingtovoteforacandidatedescribedascorrupt,adifferenceofalmost60percentagepoints.The
magnitudeofthisdifferenceissimilarwhenwelookonlyatthesubsetofrespondentswhoweretold
thatthemayorhaddeliveredalargenumberofpublicgoodsduringhispreviousterminoffice.Within
thesubsetofrespondentswhoweretoldthatthemayorwasincompetent,theeffectofthecorruption
stimulusisstillsubstantial,althoughsomewhatsmaller.Whereasthetradeoffhypothesiswouldsuggest

16

thatcompetencemoderatesthepunishmentforcorruption,wefindnoevidenceofthisinourdata.
Instead,thesizeofthecorruptionpenaltyisactuallygreaterwhenapoliticianisdescribedas
competent. 22

Inaddition,therouba,masfazhypothesisisnotsupportedinthecrucialcomparisonbetween

Gabriel(a)sintendedvoteforcorruptbutcompetentpoliticiansascomparedtocleanbutincompetent
politicians.Amongthoserespondentswhoweretoldthemayorwascleanbutincompetent,fully62%
ofthemreportedthatGabrielawouldbesomewhatorverylikelytosupportthemayor.Incontrast,only
28%ofrespondentsinthecorruptbutcompetenttreatmentgroupbelievedthatGabrielawould
supportthemayor.This34percentagepointdifferenceisintheoppositedirectionofwhatthetradeoff
hypothesiswouldpredict,anditissignificantatthe.01level.Thenegativereactiontocorruptionamong
oursampleis,onaverage,muchstrongerthanthepositivereactiontopublicgoodsprovision.

Alsoofinterestfromtable2aretheresultsforthesubsetofrespondentswhoreceivedno

informationaboutcompetence.Whenrespondentsaretoldthatthepoliticianiscorruptbutnotgiven
informationaboutcompetence,theirresponseaboutGabriel(a)svotingintentionparallelsthatof
respondentsinthecorruptandincompetentcategory,whereasthevotingbehaviorofrespondentswho
aretoldthatthepoliticianiscleanbutnotgiveninformationaboutcompetenceparallelsthatof
respondentsinthecleanandcompetentcategory.Althoughfarfromconclusive,thissuggeststhat
respondentsthinkthatcorruptionandcompetentpublicgoodsprovisionarenegativelycorrelated,
whichalsowouldspeakagainsttheexistenceofarouba,masfazmentalityamongBrazilianvoters.

AlthoughwefindlittleevidencethatBrazilianvotersasawholeareforgivingofcorruptionwhen
politiciansareotherwisecompetent,webuildonexistingresultsintheliteraturetoexplorethe

22
Thismaybedueinparttothefactthatthe13%supportforacorrupt,incompetentpolitician
approachesthelowerboundofpossiblesupport.

17

possibilitythatrouba,masfazdoesdescribetheattitudesofsomeparticularsubsetsofthe
population.
DoesSocioeconomicStatusMatterforAttitudestowardsCorruption?

Asdescribedabove,theresultsofnonexperimentalsurveyresearchonrouba,masfazinBrazil

suggestthattherearesignificantdifferencesintheideasresonanceacrosssocialclasses.Weexamine
therelationshipbetweensocioeconomicstatusandinformationaboutcorruptionbycomparingthe
effectsofthepromptsacrosssocialclasses,usingastandardBrazilianmeasureofsocialclassthatdraws
onthehouseholdsaccesstogoodsandservices,aswellastheheadofhouseholdseducationlevel. 23
Table3summarizestheresultsforrespondentsinthelowestandhighestsocialclasses. 24 Onceagain,
wehighlightinboldtheresponsesthatreflectmostdirectlyonthetradeoffhypothesis.
Theresultssuggesttheexactoppositeconclusionabouttherelationshipbetweencorruption
toleranceandsocialclassthanthatreachedbyprevioussurveysthatreliedondirectquestioning,rather
thananexperimentalsetup.Asisclearfromthetable,respondentsinthelowestclasseshavea
powerfulnegativereactiontoinformationaboutcorruption.Foreitherlevelofpurportedcompetence,
informationaboutcorruptionresultsinasharpdropoffinsupport.Inaddition,whenwecompare

WedefineupperclassasthosefallingintosocialclassesA1,A2andB1;middleclassasthosefalling

23

intosocialclassesB2,C1andC2;andpoorasthosefallingintosocialclassesDandE.Theoriginalsetof
socialclassdesignationsisstandardandisdeterminedbyanationalformulabasedonthenumberof
ninedifferenthouseholdgoodsandservices(includinghiredhouseholdhelp)towhichrespondents
haveaccessandtheheadofhouseholdshighestlevelofeducationalattainment.
24

Intheinterestsofspace,weomitresultsforthemiddleclasses,whoseresponsesfallinbetween

thosereportedhere,althoughtheyareclosertotheresultsreportedforthepoor.Inourtable,the
lowestclassesmakeupabout25%ofthesample,whereastheupperclassesmakeupabout9%ofthe
sample.ThisimbalancereflectsBrazilshighlyunequaldistributionofincome.

18

responsesamongthepoorwhowereinthecorrupt,competenttreatmentwiththoseintheclean,
incompetenttreatment,wefindnoevidenceofwidespreadsupportforthetradeoffhypothesis.Fully65
percentofrespondentsrepliedthatGabrielawouldvotefortheclean,althoughincompetentmayor,
whereasonly32percentrepliedthatshewouldvoteforthecorrupt,yetcompetentmayor.
Resultsforupperclassrespondentsshowsomesimilaritiesbutalsostarkdifferences.The
informationhypothesisappearstohavesignificantexplanatorypowerforthisgroup,aswell.Once
again,weseethat,foragivenlevelofcompetence,mayorswhoarerevealedtobecorruptreceivefar
lesssupportthanthosepurportedtobeclean.Moststrikingforthisgroup,however,isthat,incontrast
tothelowerclassandpooledpopulationresults,thetradeoffhypothesisfindsmuchmoresupport.The
proportionofupperclassrespondentswhosaythatGabrielwillvoteforacorruptbutcompetent
politician(0.48)isstatisticallyindistinguishablefromtheproportionwhosaythatGabrielwillvotefora
cleanbutincompetentpolitician(0.54).Inaddition,althoughtheseupperclassvotersclearlypunish
corruption,theywithdrawsupportfromcorruptpoliticianstoalesserdegreethanrespondentsfrom
lowersocialclasses.
Whatmightexplainthegreatertoleranceforcorruptionamongtheupperclass?Thisresultmay
reflectthefactthatupperclassvoterstendtobemoresophisticatedconsumersofpoliticalinformation.
PerhapsthesevotersrecognizethecomplexinstitutionalandpoliticalenvironmentBrazilianmayors
faceandthereforerewardaccomplishments,evenwhenaccompaniedbycorruption,becauseofthe
significantbarrierstotheeffectivedistributionofpublicgoods.Weexplorethispossibilityingreater
detailinthenextsection,whereweexaminetheexplanatorypoweroftheinformationandtradeoff
hypothesesamongrespondentswithvaryinglevelsofpoliticalinterest.Italsoispossiblethatwealthy
votersaremorelikelytopersonallyknoworidentifywithpoliticians,oreventobethedirect
beneficiariesofcorrupttransactionswithpoliticians.Thispersonalbenefitorpersonalsympathywith

19

politiciansamongtheBrazilianelitemightexplaintheresultswesee,althoughourdatadonotprovide
anydirectevidenceoneitherofthesepoints.
Withregardtothesharpcontrastbetweenourresultsandthoseofprevioussurveysthatasked
directlyaboutthetradeoffbetweencorruptionandcompetence,wecanonlyspeculate,butwenote
thatthemostprivilegedrespondentstostandardsurveyquestionsaremorelikelytobeattunedto
internationalnormsaboutcorruptionandthereforemoresubjecttosocialdesirabilitybiasinthe
contextofdirectquestioning.Itmaybethattheexperimentalsettingismostusefulforuncoveringthe
trueopinionsofthisgroup.Thepossibilitythatsocialdesirabilitybiasisparticularlystrongamongthe
upperclassesissupportedbythedistributionofnonresponsestothedirectquestionusedinFigueiredo
(2004).Thenumberofotherornoresponsestothequestionsteadilyincreasedwithincome:nine
percentofthelowestincomerespondentsfailedtochooseoneofthetwoprofferedoptions(cleanbut
incompetentorcorruptbutefficient),ascomparedto22percentofthehighestincomerespondents
whodidso.
ItisalsopossiblethatourresultsreflectagenuineshiftinattitudesamongBrazilspooroverthe
pastdecade.Renno(2007)notesthatsurveyshavedetectedashiftinthesalienceofcorruption.In
2002,onlytwopercentofrespondentsinBrazilsNationalElectionStudy(ESEB)citedcorruptionasthe
countrysworstproblem,whereasthatshareroseto42percentin2006.Bothcontinuedcorruption
scandalsandtheconcertedeffortsofadvocacyandprofessionalgroups,liketheBrazilianMagistrates
Association,havekeptthisissueonthepublicagendasincethattime.Itmaybethecasethatpoor
votersatthetimeofoursurveyweresimplymoreawareofcorruptionanditsillsthanwasthecasein
earliersurveys.Thisremainsanareaforfuturestudy.
DoPoliticallyInterestedCitizensSupportCorruptPoliticians?

Intheabovediscussionofsocialclasseffects,wesuggestthatthegreatertoleranceforcorrupt

yetcompetentpoliticiansamongrespondentsinthehighestsocialclassesmightbeduetopolitical

20

sophistication.Althoughwedonothaveadirectmeasureofpoliticalsophisticationorknowledgefor
ourrespondents,wedohaveinformationaboutpoliticalinterest,whichislikelytobecloselyrelated
(Verba,SchlozmanandBrady1995;DelliCarpiniandKeeter1996;Prior2005).Funk(1996)findsthat
politicallyknowledgeablerespondentsreactdifferentlytoinformationaboutscandalsinvolving
politiciansdependingonthetypeofscandal.Inourdata,wedescribeaspoliticallyinterestedthesubset
ofrespondentswhoreportdiscussingpoliticswiththeirfriendsandfamilyveryoften(ascomparedto
often,rarelyornever).Thenumberofrespondentswhofallintothishighestinterestcategoryissmall,a
littleoversixpercentofoursample.Theserespondentsaremorelikelytobemale,highlyeducatedand
membersoftheupperclassthantheaveragerespondent.
Astable4shows,thissubgroupappearstovaluecompetencemorethanthosewhoarenotas
interestedinpolitics.Fiftypercentofpoliticallyinterestedrespondentswhoreceivedavignetteabouta
corruptbutcompetentpoliticiansaidthatGabriel(a)wouldvotetoreelectthemayor,aratemuch
higherthanthatamongthenotpoliticallyinterestedsubset(p<0.06).Inaddition,thosewhoreceived
avignetteaboutacleanandcompetentpoliticianwerealmostuniversalintheirbeliefthatGabriel(a)
wouldvotetoreelectthemayor.Lookingattheoffdiagonalcellsforthepoliticallyinterested,wesee
thatrespondentsinthisgroupwerealmostaslikelytosaythatGabriel(a)wouldvoteforacorruptbut
competentpoliticianasthatGabriel(a)wouldvoteforacleanbutincompetentonethetwo
proportionsarestatisticallyindistinguishable.Allthreeresultsareverysimilartothosewefindfor
respondentsinthehighestsocialclasses.Onceagain,thissuggestsawillingnesstomakearouba,mas
faztradeoffamongaparticulargroupofvoters.

Althoughwedonotmeasurepoliticalinformationdirectly,thesepoliticallyinterested

respondentsmaybemoreknowledgeableandsophisticatedpoliticalobservers.Thesevotersmaytreat
thedeliveryofpublicgoodsasadifficulttaskandthereforebe(1)moretolerantofcorruptionwhena
mayoriscompetent,(2)particularlysupportiveofcompetentandcleanmayorsand(3)particularly

21

criticalofincompetentmayors.Asanindicationthatthesevotersdo,infact,attachgreaterimportance
totheinformationaboutpublicgoodsprovision,wefindthattheyaremorelikelythanothervotersto
attributeskilltothemayorinotherareas.Whereas88percentofthehighlyinterestedrespondentsin
thecompetenttreatmentconditionssaidthatthemayorwouldbeverycompetentorcompetentin
acquiringfederalresourcesforthemunicipality,only65percentofotherrespondentsthoughtthis.
Thesesignificantlydifferent(p<0.01)assessmentsoftheskillsinanotherareaofamayorwhois
describedasgoodatcreatingpublicworksprojectsprovideevidencethathighinterestvotersare
interpretinginformationaboutcompetenceinamorepositivelightthantheaveragevoter. 25
RethinkingtheInformationHypothesis
Althoughthephraserouba,masfazhaswidespreadrecognitioninBrazil,theresultsofa
nationwidesurveyexperimentofferlittleevidencethatBrazilianvotersactuallyadoptsuchamentality
whenevaluatingthesuitabilityofcandidatesforoffice.Infact,wefindjusttheopposite.Votersinour
surveyappeartobeverysensitivetoinformationaboutcorruptionindeedsosensitivethatthevast

25
AnalternativeexplanationsuggestedtousbyBobPahreforwhythereismoresupportforthe
tradeoffhypothesisamonghighlyinterestedorwealthyvotersisthattheserespondents,askedto
describewhatGabriel(a)woulddo,answernotforsomeonelikethemselves,butratherhaveinmind
howanaveragerespondentwouldanswer.Giventhewidespreadusageofthephrase,thesevoters
mightattributearouba,masfazmentalitytoGarbiel(a).However,notethattheresponsesamong
thesegroupsdifferfromthoseofrespondentsatlargeformanyofthetreatmentcategories,including
thosethatdonotevokeapopularphrase.Theyare,forexample,somewhatmorecriticalofcleanbut
incompetentmayorsandrewardcleanandcompetentmayorsatexceptionallyhighrates.Inaddition,
theseupperclassorhighlyinterestedrespondentsaremorelikelytothinkthatacleanpoliticianis
skilledinotherareas.Allofthisthensuggeststhattheserespondentssimplyevaluatedmayoral
performancedifferentlythanmostotherrespondents.

22

majorityarewillingtooverlookpoorpublicgoodsprovisionaslongasapoliticianisclean.Overall,our
resultsaremuchmoreconsistentwithwhatwecalltheinformationhypothesistheargumentthat,
withinademocracy,citizenswillvoteagainstcorruptpoliticiansaslongastheyhaveknowledgeofthat
corruption.Giventheculturalcurrencyofthephraserouba,masfaz,thefactthatourresultsareso
resoundinglyatoddswiththetradeoffhypothesisisatfirstglancesurprising.However,theyare
consistentwithotherrecentempiricalwork,includingthatofFerrazandFinan(2008),Pereira,Melo,
andFigueiredo(2009),Pereira,Renn,andSamuels(ND)anddeFigueiredo,HidalgoandKasara(2010),
allofwhomwhousevotingoutcomestoexaminetheeffectofinformationaboutcorruptionon
reelection. 26 Ourresearchprovidesindividuallevelresultsconsistentwiththeseaggregatelevelfindings
andprovidesevidenceofwhatPereira,Renn,andSamuels(ND)callthemassmechanismofelectoral
accountability.
Boththeirresearchandourresearchprovideevidencethatinformationaboutcorruption,
whereavailable,leadsBrazilianvoterstovoteagainstcorruptpoliticians.This,inturn,suggeststhatthe
persistentcorruptioninBrazilisaresultofalackofinformation.Butisthisreallythecase?Althoughwe
discussthelimitationsofBrazilsmediabelow,ithasbeeninstrumentalinpublicizinganumberofmajor
corruptionscandalsinrecentyears. 27 Datafromthe2006BrazilianNationalElectionStudyshowthat
corruptionhasbecomehighlysalient,withover40%ofrespondentsnamingcorruptionasthesingle

Pereira,RennoandSamuelsexplorebothmassandelitemechanismsofaccountability,whereas

26

theotherthreepapers,likeours,focusonlyonthelinkbetweentherevelationofinformationabout
corruptionandvoterbehavior.
27

Inaforthcomingvolume,PowerandTaylor(ND)characterizethemediathisway:Whilenotallmedia

organizationsareautonomousofpoliticalpressures,thepluralismofthenationalpressisauseful
antidote:thescopeofmediacoverageisbroad,andthemediacooperatescloselywithboththecentral
institutionsandwithcivilsocietyorganizations(23).

23

biggestpoliticalprobleminthecountry(Renno2007).Furthermore,datafromoursurveyshowthat
Brazilianshavenoillusionsaboutthecleanlinessoftheirpoliticians:whenaskedhowcommonitisfor
Brazilianpoliticianstotakebribes,78percentofrespondentssaiditwasveryorsomewhatcommon.
Insteadofpointingtotheimportanceofbroadinformationaboutcorruptionforlimitingsupport
forcorruptpoliticians,ourresultsinsteadpointtotherelevanceofspecific,credible,andavailable
informationinaffectingvotingbehavior.Asalways,weneedtobecautiousinextrapolatingfroman
experimentalsettingtotherealworld.AsBarabasandJerit(2010)pointout,surveypromptsnecessarily
confrontrespondentswithdirectinformationthatisunclutteredbythedistractionsofreallife.Inthis
case,thedissimilaritiesbetweentheexperimentandtherealworldcanservetorefinetheinformation
hypothesisascurrentlypresentedintheliterature.Oursurveypresentsspecificinformationabouta
particularpolitician(bribetakingbyacurrentmayor),presentsitfromacrediblesource(thesurveywas
runbyIBOPE,thelargestandmostwellknownpublicopinionfirminBrazil),andpresentsitinclose
temporalproximitytoahypotheticalvotingdecision.Similarly,theresultsreportedbyFerrazandFinan
(2008)andPereira,MeloandFigueiredo(2009)exploretheeffectsoftherevelation,byanindependent
auditingagency,ofinformationaboutspecificcorruptactsinamayoraladministration.Theyusedata
fromBrazilsnationalandstatemunicipalauditprogramsandmunicipalelectionstoshowthat
reelectionratesweresignificantlylowerincitieswhereapreelectionauditfoundcorruptionviolations.
Pereira,MeloandFigueiredoexploretheeffectsofcorruptionrevelationsfromtwowavesofaudits,
oneconductedoverayearpriortotheelectionandoneconductedwithinthefourmonthofficial
campaignperiodleadinguptoelections.Theyfindthatonlythelatterhadasignificanteffectofmayoral
reelection,suggestingthatonlywheninformationaboutcorruptionisatthetopofvotersmindsdo
theyactonit.FerrazandFinanfindthatwheretherearemorelocalradiostations,thenegativeeffects
ofcorruptionfindingsareenhanced,againsuggestingthatthespreadofcredibleinformationamong

24

votersplaysacriticalroleinlinkingcorruption,voterattitudestowardcorruption,andpoliticianlosses
attheballotbox. 28
Incontrast,thetypeofinformationBrazilianvoterstypicallyencounteraboutcorruptionmaybe
quitedifferent;itmaybevague,diffuseinwhoitaccusesofwrongdoing,disseminatedbypartisan
sources,andnotconcentratedintheperiodimmediatelybeforeelections.AlthoughBrazilhasalarge,
privatelyownedandactivemedia,itspenetrationisquiteuneven.AsFreedomHouse(2009)reports,
thechallengestoinformationprovisionareparticularlyacuteawayfromthemainmetropolitanareas.
FerrazandFinan(2008)documentthatmanymunicipalitiesdonothaveevenasingleradiostation.
Theimportanceofdistinguishingbetweendiffuseandparticularinformationisreinforcedby
patternsinthedatafromtwoquestionsthatweaskedattheendofthesurvey.Weaskedvotershow
commontheythoughtitwasforpoliticiansinBraziltotakebribes:verycommon,somewhatcommon,
notverycommonornotcommon.Immediatelyafterwards,weaskedvoterswhethertheypersonally
hadevervotedforacorruptpolitician. 29

Incontrast,notethattheexperimentalcorruptionorganizedbyBanerjeeet.al(2010),discussed

28

earlier,involvedabroaddiscussionabouttheillsofcorruption,ratherthanaspecificdescriptionof
corruptiononthepartofanyparticularpolitician.Ifwearecorrect,thislackofspecificinformation,
ratherthanadisregardforcorruptiononthepartofthosesurveyed,mightexplainthelackofa
treatmenteffectonvotingoutcomesintheirstudy.
29

Bothofthesequestionswereaskedattheendofthesurveyandthereforeafterrespondentshad

heardtheexperimentalvignette.However,wedetectnoeffectofthestimulusonthewaysinwhich
peopleansweredthesetwoquestionstheproportionofrespondentsthatsaybribetakingisvery
commonorsomewhatcommonisindistinguishablebetweenthegroupofrespondentsthathearda
corruptionvignetteandthegroupthatheardavignettethatsaidthepoliticianwasnotcorrupt(p<

25

Asnotedaboveandascanbeseenintable5,while78percentoftherespondentsthinkitis

verycommonorsomewhatcommonforpoliticianstotakebribes,only21percentsaythattheyever
personallyhavevotedforacorruptpolitician.Evenamongthosewhosayitsverycommonfor
politicianstotakebribes,fully73percent(601outof818respondents)saytheyhavenevervotedfora
corruptpolitician. 30 MuchlikethefamiliarobservationthattheaverageAmericanhatesCongressbut
lovestheircongressperson,Brazilianvotersappeartothinkthatcorruptioniseverywhereandyet
reportathighratesthattheyhaveneverthemselvesvotedforacorruptpolitician.AlthoughBrazilian
votershaveadiffuseawarenessofcorruption,thisappearsunlikelytoaffectvotingbehaviorunlessas
inourexperimentalvignettevotersaregivencredible,specific,andcognitivelyavailableinformation
thattiescorruptiontoaparticularpolitician.
Conclusions
Insummary,wefindthatBrazilianvotersareverysensitivetoinformationaboutcorruptionand
areunlikelytosupportcorruptpoliticians,evenwhenthesepoliticiansdeliverpublicgoods.Whatdoour
resultstellusabouttheprospectsforlimitingcorruptioninBrazilandothersimilarlysituatedcountries?
Inlightoftheculturalresonanceofthephraserouba,masfaz,wemightthinkofBrazilasahardcase
fortheinformationhypothesis.Thefactthatwefindsuchstrongevidenceforitandagainstthetradeoff
hypothesissuggeststhatbroadculturalexplanationsofcorruptionwillbelimitedintheirexplanatory
powerelsewhere,aswell.Presumablyitiseasiertorepairaninformationdeficitthantochange
preferenceorderings,andsototheextentthatvotersbelievecorruptioniscostly,evenifitiscoupled
withperformanceinotherareas,theseresultsshouldcheeropponentsofcorruption.Anumberof

0.63);similarlythereisnodifferenceintheproportionofpeopleineachconditionwhosaidthatthey
hadevervotedforacorruptpolitician(p<0.86).
30

Notethatthequestionordershould,ifanything,makeconsistentrepliesmorelikely.Thismakesthe

highdegreeofincongruencebetweenthegeneralandspecificquestionsevenmorestriking.

26

effortsarecurrentlyunderwayinBraziltogivevotersmorepreciseinformationaboutcandidates
corruptactivitiesduringthecourseoftheelectoralcampaign(andtooutlawsomecorruptcandidates
fromrunningforoffice).Policieslikethese,ifimplementedelsewhere,mighthaveagreatereffecton
voterbehaviorthanmoregeneralanticorruptioncampaigns.Ourresultssuggestthepossibilityof
improvingaccountabilityandamelioratingoreliminatingtheparadoxofunpopularcorruptionand
popularcorruptpoliticians(Kurer2001,63).
Ourresultssoundsomecautionarynotes,aswell.If,asweargue,thedistributionofprecise,
credibleinformationiskeyforgeneratingavoterresponse,thistaskisstillasubstantialoneinmany
youngandlowerandmiddleincomedemocracies.Itssuccesswillrelyoneitherindependent
governmentagenciesand/oractiveinvestigativejournalismandwidespreaddisseminationof
information.Preciselywherecorruptioniswidespread,obtaininganddistributingcredibleinformationis
particularlydifficult.Corruptpoliticiansmayacttopreventtheestablishmentofindependent
governmentauditingagencies.Journalistsandotherwatchdogsmayfearrepercussionsfrompoliticians
andcandidates(Stanig2010).Evenwherecorruptionisuncovered,theabilitytoattractandholdthe
publicsattentionmayvarywiththelevelsofcorruption.Wheremostpoliticiansareclean,identifying
thefewcorruptpoliticiansmayberelativelyeasyforjournalistsandotherwatchdogs,andthenthat
informationcanbereadilyacteduponbyvoters.Incontrast,ifmostormanypoliticiansarecorrupt,it
maybedifficultforvoterstoidentifyandrecallcredible,detailedinformationaboutcorruption.Our
experimentinthecontextofBrazil'sexperiencewithcorruptionsuggeststhatalthoughBrazilian
votersmaylackcredibleinformation,theydonotcondonecorruption.

27

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35

NoCorruption
Corruption

HighCompetence
B1
(N=334)
B4
(N=335)

LowCompetence
B2
(N=335)
B5
(N=334)

NoInformationon
Competence
B3
(N=333)
B6
(N=331)

Table1.SixTreatmentCategories.Thevariablesinthecellsnotetheproportionofrespondentsinthe
treatmentcategorywhoexpresstheirbeliefthatGabriel(a)willvotefortheincumbentpolitician.The
treatmentsalsovariedinathirddimensionnotshownheretheannouncedpartyoftheincumbent
mayorwithroughlyequalnumbersofrespondentsassignedtohearaboutthePT(Partidodos
Trabalhadores,WorkersParty)andthePSDB(PartidodaSocialDemocraciaBrasileira,BrazilianSocial
DemocraticParty)ineachofthesixcellsshown.

36

(1)
AllVignettes

(2)
Competent
Vignettes

(3)
Incompetent
Vignettes

NotCorrupt

0.78
(0.01)
N=989

0.19
(0.01)
N=985

0.88
(0.02)
N=329

0.62
(0.03)
N=331

(4)
Vignettes
without
Competence
Information
0.83
(0.02)
N=329

0.28
(0.02)
N=328

0.13
(0.02)
N=328

0.16
(0.02)
N=329

0.58
(0.02)

0.59
(0.03)

0.49
(0.03)

0.66
(0.03)

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Corrupt

Difference

pvalueonH0:
NoDifference

Table2.RespondentsAssessmentsofWhetherGabriel(a)WillVoteforCorruptandClean
Politicians.Cellsreportproportionofrespondentsineachtreatmentconditionwhosaidthat
Gabriel(a)wouldbewillingtovotefortheincumbentmayor.

37

NotCorrupt

Corrupt

RoubaMas
FazDifference

pvalueonH0:
NoDifference

Lowestclasses(D,E)
Competent
Incompetent
Vignettes
Vignettes
0.88
0.65
(0.04)
(0.05)
N=81
N=87

0.32
0.13
(0.05)
(0.04)
N=87
N=81

0.33
(0.07)

Highestclasses(A1,A2,B1)
Competent
Incompetent
Vignettes
Vignettes
1.00
0.54
(0.00)
(0.03)
N=22
N=35

0.48
0.23
(0.03)
(0.08)
N=23
N=30

0.06
(0.14)

0.00

0.64

Table3.VariationinVotingPatternsAcrossSocialClass.Cellsreportproportionof
respondentsineachtreatmentconditionwhosaidthatGabriel(a)wouldbewillingtovotefor
theincumbentmayor.

38

NotCorrupt

Corrupt

RoubaMas
FazDifference

pvalueonH0:
NoDifference

PoliticallyInterested
Competent
Incompetent
Vignettes
Vignettes
0.95
0.54
(0.05)
(0.10)
N=19
N=24

0.50
0.21
(0.13)
(0.08)
N=16
N=24

0.04
(0.17)

NotPoliticallyInterested
Competent
Incompetent
Vignettes
Vignettes
0.87
0.63
(0.02)
(0.03)
N=310
N=307

0.27
0.13
(0.03)
(0.02)
N=311
N=304

0.36
(0.04)

0.80

0.00

Table4.VariationinVotingPatternsAcrossLevelsofPoliticalInterest.Cellsreportproportion
ofrespondentsineachtreatmentconditionwhosaidthatGabriel(a)wouldbewillingtovotefor
theincumbentmayor.

39


HowCommonIsIt
ForPoliticiansto
TakeBribes?

HaveNotVotedfora HaveVotedfora
CorruptPolitician
CorruptPolitician

Total

VeryCommon

601

217

818
(45percent)

SomewhatCommon 488

117

605
(33percent)

NotVeryCommon

232

41

273
(15percent)

NotAtAll

129

13

142
(8percent)

Total

1,450
(79percent)

388
(21percent)

1,838

Table5.PerceptionsofActualCorruption.Thetablereportsrespondentsbeliefsabouthow
commonitisforpoliticiansinBraziltotakebribesandalsowhetherornottheypersonallyhave
votedforacorruptpolitician.

40