Price discrimination in bribe payments: evidence from informal cross-border trade in West Africa

Sami Bensassi*, Joachim Jarreau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


What factors explain the persistence and pervasiveness of corruption in certain parts of the world? In West Africa, many day-to-day transactions require the payment of bribes. Quantitative evidence on these bribes and their determinants is scarce. This paper sheds light on the level and the frequency of bribe payments in informal coss-border trade. It examines how bribes depend on the trade regime and on market structure. We rely on data from a survey of traders in Benin to estimate the determinants of bribe payments. We exploit variations in the trade regime across Benin’s borders, as well as changes in trade restrictions over time and variations in route availability across space and time. We find that reductions in trade barriers help to lower bribes, but do not eliminate them, with bribes remaining frequent in liberalized trade regimes. These results suggest that collusive corruption – used to circumvent regulations and taxes – coexists with coercive corruption, where officials use their monopoly power to extract transfers from traders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-480
Number of pages19
JournalWorld Development
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), through the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling consortium [Gaps in Research grant number 2015X115].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Corruption
  • Informal trade
  • Trade policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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