Bribery and Fair Representation on the United Nations Security Council


Abstract: Aid from the United States to nonpermanent members spikes during their time on the United Nations Security Council, leading scholars to conclude that Washington distorts policy outcomes with its economic power. I develop a model in which states elect nonpermanent members and the U.S. bribes the winners. Rather than pick the median voter, the electorate chooses a state further away from Washington’s ideal point, anticipating that the bribe will shift the realized policy back to the median voter’s preference. Thus, bribery and fair representation can coexist. Comparative statics further reveal that the U.S.’s payoff decreases in the ease of giving bribes, as Washington must run faster to stay in the same place. Consequently, bureaucratic hurdles that complicate efficient disbursement of tainted aid may counterintuitively enhance American welfare.

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