Is corruption a greater burden for registered MSEs? Evidence from Zambia

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Review of Development Economics


If corrupt bureaucrats target registered firms, then corruption may discourage registration. Using data from a survey of 4,801 micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Zambia, this paper looks at whether corruption is a more or less serious problem for registered MSEs. Consistent with earlier studies, the results suggest registered MSEs are more concerned about corruption than unregistered firms are. The paper also proposes two reasons why corruption might affect registered MSEs differently than it affects unregistered firms. We first suggest that registered firms might meet with government officials more often than unregistered firms, giving corrupt officials more opportunities to demand bribes from them, but we also suggest that registered firms might be less vulnerable when officials demand bribes because they are more able to complain about bribe demands. This could offset registered firms' disadvantage because of more frequent meetings. The evidence supports the first, but not the second, hypothesis. Registered firms were more likely to meet with government officials but were not consistently less likely to pay bribes when they did meet with them.

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