Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Speed Money: Time, Corruption, and Trade

Shepherd, Ben (2009): Speed Money: Time, Corruption, and Trade.

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Abstract

This paper shows that longer trade times are associated with higher levels of trade-related corruption, consistent with a theoretical framework in which “fast” producers earn higher profits than “slow” ones, but may have to pay “speed money” to possibly corrupt customs officials. This finding is robust to the use of corruption measures based on perceptions and reported behavior, the inclusion of a wide range of control variables from the previous literature, and estimation by a variety of methods including instrumental variables. Moreover, results from a gravity model show that the combination of slow border procedures and rampant corruption acts as a significant drag on international trade, in line with the model's predictions: the elasticity of bilateral trade with respect to trade time is around 5% stronger in a country with rampant corruption compared with a corruption free country. Together, these results suggest that improved trade facilitation can be an effective and feasible policy for reducing corruption over the short-term in weak institutional environments.

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