G. Rosas and L. Manzetti, “Reassessing the Trade-off Hypothesis: How Misery Drives the Corruption Effect on Presidential Approval”, Electoral Studies, 39, 2015.
Do economic conditions drive voters to punish politicians that tolerate corruption? Previous scholarly work contends that citizens in young democracies support corrupt governments that are capable of promoting good economic outcomes, the so-called trade-off hypothesis. We test this hypothesis based on mass surveys in eighteen Latin American countries throughout 2004–2012. We find that citizens that report bribe attempts from bureaucrats are always more likely to report presidential disapproval than citizens that report no such attempts, that is, Latin American victims of corruption are not duped by good economic performance. However, we find some evidence for a weaker form of the trade-off hypothesis: presidential disapproval among corruption victims might be more pronounced in contexts of high inflation and high unemployment.