We follow 822 applicants through the process of obtaining a driver’s license in New Delhi, India. To understand how the bureaucracy responds to individual and social needs, participants were randomly assigned to three groups: “bonus,” “lesson” and comparison groups. In the bonus group, participants were offered a financial reward if they could obtain their license fast; in the lesson group, participants were offered free driving lessons. To gauge driving skills, we performed a surprise driving test after participants had obtained their licenses. Several findings about corruption emerge. First, the bureaucracy is responsive to individual needs. Those who want their license faster (e.g. the bonus group), get it 40% faster and at a 20% higher rate. However, the bureaucracy is insensitive to social needs . . .
Marianne Bertrand, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, NBER, CEPR and IZA; Simeon Djankov, International Finance Corporation and CEPR; Rema Hanna, Graduate School of Public Service, New York University; Sendhil Mullainathan, Harvard University and NBER