Who takes bribes and how much? Evidence from the China Corruption Conviction Databank

Toke S. Aidt, Arye L. Hillman, L. I.U. Qijun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Numerous empirical studies have sought to compare corruption across regions or countries. It is however individuals who are corrupt, not regions or countries. Studies of corruption should therefore investigate individual behavior. This has not been previously possible other than in survey responses on payment of bribes because of lack of data. We use individual-level data from the China Corruption Conviction Databank to investigate bribe-taking among officials in local-government public-administration and parallel Party bureaucracies. We find that bribes that officials received systematically increase with positions at higher levels of official hierarchies. Economic authority to decide on spending and regulation is associated with receiving greater bribes than being in administrative positions. Consistent with life-cycle incentives, entry-level and retirement-approaching officials take higher bribes than middle-aged officials. Being more educated does not deter corruption but on the contrary is associated with taking higher bribes. Gender is not correlated with the size of the bribes taken. We link our empirical results on bribes to the theory of rent seeking in bureaucratic hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104985
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Huazhong University of Science and Technology Special Funds for Development of Humanities and Social Sciences, China and by Bar-Ilan University, Israel .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bribery
  • Bureaucracy
  • China
  • Corruption
  • Gender
  • Local government
  • Public administration
  • Rent seeking


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