Through corruption – the abuse of public office for private gain – certain individuals or groups can derive unfair spoils at the expense of the public interest. As such, corrupt exchanges can generate an unfair distribution of material benefits, public resources, and political power. Corruption not only harms the economy and makes public investment in key areas more inefficient; it also generates public dissatisfaction and shapes how citizens relate to public institutions. 

In the last decades, the fight against corruption has become a major policy issue around the world. Governments and other public institutions, such as courts and prosecutors’ offices, lead different types of anti-corruption efforts, such as transparency reforms, bribery-reporting tools, and corruption court cases. To date, it is unclear whether such efforts have generated more successful corruption control.

In our research, we investigate how ordinary citizens evaluate and react to anti-corruption efforts. Can these efforts help rebuild trust in public institutions, or do they unintentionally compromise it even more by exposing the public to scandalous information about corruption schemes? Do anti-corruption efforts stimulate citizens’ electoral and non-electoral political activity? More worryingly, do anti-corruption efforts unintendedly undermine political efficacy? Do citizens feel less responsible to act once public institutions are perceived to be active? Or are they inspired by them? Understanding these attitudes is vital to designing effective legislation and informing better policy decisions.


Barbabela, Letícia. 2024. “A Positive Feedback Mechanism? Institutional Responsiveness to Bribery Reporting by Citizens in 12 African Countries”. Crime, Law and Social Change.  [Open Access].

Barbabela, Letícia. 2023. “Judicial Inconsistency and Citizen Anti-Corruption Demobilization: Evidence from Brazil.” Government and Opposition, 1-20. [Open Access].

Barbabela, Letícia, Miquel Pellicer, and Eva Wegner. 2022. “Court Performance and Citizen Attitudes toward Fighting Corruption.” Governance, 35 (3): 717–35. [Open Access].

Work in Progess

Barbabela, Letícia. 2023. “How Do Anti-Corruption Audits Shape Institutional Trust?”. Under Review.