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Integrity for Hire: An Analysis of a Widespread Customs Reform

Publication Abstract

Yang, Dean. 2008. "Integrity for Hire: An Analysis of a Widespread Customs Reform." Journal of Law and Economics, 51 (1).

Can governments improve bureaucratic performance by “hiring integrity” from the private sector? In the past two decades, a number of developing countries have hired private firms to conduct preshipment inspections of imports, generating independent data on the value and tariff classification of incoming shipments. I find that countries implementing such inspection programs subsequently experience large increases in import duty collections. By contrast, the growth rate of other tax revenues does not change appreciably. Additional evidence suggests that declines in falsification of import documentation are behind the import duty improvements: the programs also lead to declines in undervaluation and in misreporting of goods classifications. Historically, this hired integrity appears to have been cost-effective, with improvements in import duty collections in the first five years of a typical inspection program amounting to 2.6 times program costs.

DOI:10.1086/520007 (Full Text)

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