In one of the most ambitious public sector reform experiments in Africa, the Ghana government doubled its police officer salaries in 2010 in part to mitigate petty corruption on its roads, while leaving salaries for other officials unchanged. Neighboring countries in the West African region left their police salaries unchanged. Using unique data on bribes paid from over 2,100 truck trips in West Africa and representing over 45,000 bribe opportunities, we evaluate impacts of higher police salaries on petty corruption using a difference-in-difference method that exploits the exogenous policy experiment. By following bribes paid by the same trucks in different countries as well as to different civil servants in Ghana we identify whether salaries affect the effort to seek bribes, their value and the total amount paid by truckers. Rather than decrease petty corruption, the salary policy significantly increased the police efforts to collect bribes, the value of bribes and the amounts given by truck drivers to policemen in total. Robustness checks show the higher bribe efforts and amounts are stable across alternative specifications.
Foltz, J.D.; Opoku-Agyemang, K.A. Do higher salaries lower petty corruption? A policy experiment on West Africa’s highways. International Growth Centre (IGC), London, UK (2015) 49 pp.