MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Corruption and the public display of wealth


Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


We study an agent–client model of corruption, in which potential corruptors are uncertain about the probability with which officials are subjected to an audit, either high or low. We characterize a signaling equilibrium, in which officials who are less likely to be audited engage in public conspicuous consumption, whereas those who are more likely to be audited do not. In this equilibrium, officials are better off than in the equilibria without conspicuous consumption. The signaling equilibrium exists if the officials' bargaining power vis‐à‐vis potential corruptors is sufficiently high, which implies that corruption can be curbed by creating competition among officials.