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Political And Judicial Checks On Corruption: Evidence From American State Governments

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  • JAMES E. ALT
  • DAVID D. LASSEN

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of checks and balances on corruption. Within a presidential system, effective separation of powers is achieved under a divided government, with the executive and legislative branches being controlled by different political parties. When government is unified, no effective separation exists even within a presidential system, but, we argue, can be partially restored by having an accountable judiciary. Our empirical findings show that a divided government and elected, rather than appointed, state supreme court judges are associated with lower corruption and, furthermore, that the effect of an accountable judiciary is stronger under a unified government, where the government cannot control itself. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Alt & David D. Lassen, 2008. "Political And Judicial Checks On Corruption: Evidence From American State Governments," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 33-61, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:20:y:2008:i:1:p:33-61
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:171-188 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elena Costas-Pérez & Albert Solé-Ollé & Pilar Sorribas-Navarro, 2011. "Corruption scandals, press reporting, and accountability. Evidence from Spanish mayors," Working Papers 2011/9, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Brown, David S. & Touchton, Michael & Whitford, Andrew, 2011. "Political Polarization as a Constraint on Corruption: A Cross-national Comparison," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1516-1529, September.
    4. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Jorgensen, Miriam & Sunde, Uwe, 2012. "Constitutions and Economic Development: Evidence from the American Indian Nations," IZA Discussion Papers 6754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Rajeev K. Goel & Michael A. Nelson, 2014. "Whistleblower laws and exposed corruption in the United States," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(20), pages 2331-2341, July.
    6. Bernardo Mueller & Lee Alston & Carlos Pereira & Marcus Melo, 2008. "The Choices Governors Make: The Roles of Checks and Balances and Political Competition," Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 36th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 200807181549410, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    7. Smith, Jared D., 2016. "US political corruption and firm financial policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 350-367.
    8. Adriana Cordis, 2009. "Judicial checks on corruption in the United States," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 375-401, November.
    9. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2010. "Enforcement and Public Corruption: Evidence from US States," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-08, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. Noel Johnson & Courtney LaFountain & Steven Yamarik, 2011. "Corruption is bad for growth (even in the United States)," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 147(3), pages 377-393, June.
    11. Noel Johnson & William Ruger & Jason Sorens & Steven Yamarik, 2014. "Corruption, regulation, and growth: an empirical study of the United States," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 51-69, February.
    12. Costas-Pérez, Elena & Solé-Ollé, Albert & Sorribas-Navarro, Pilar, 2012. "Corruption scandals, voter information, and accountability," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 469-484.
    13. Rajeev Goel & Michael Nelson, 2011. "Measures of corruption and determinants of US corruption," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 155-176, June.
    14. Akee, Randall & Jorgensen, Miriam & Sunde, Uwe, 2015. "Critical junctures and economic development – Evidence from the adoption of constitutions among American Indian Nations," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 844-861.
    15. Eric Avis & Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2016. "Do Government Audits Reduce Corruption: Estimating the Impacts of Exposing Corrupt Politicians," Working Papers id:11148, eSocialSciences.
    16. repec:bla:acctfi:v:56:y:2016:i:4:p:961-984 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Bernardino Benito & Francisco Bastida & Ana-María Ríos & Cristina Vicente, 2014. "The causes of legal rents extraction: evidence from Spanish municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(3), pages 367-383, December.
    18. Rajeev K. Goel, 2013. "Initiation of corrupt exchanges and severity of corruption," Financial Theory and Practice, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 37(2), pages 207-222.
    19. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:2:p:306-329 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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