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

  • JAMES E. ALT
  • DAVID D. LASSEN

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..

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 33-61

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:20:y:2008:i:1:p:33-61
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  1. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2000. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory And Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido & Trebbi, Francesco, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," CEPR Discussion Papers 2741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Raven Saks, 2004. "Corruption in America," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2043, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 2000. "Incentives and Political Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294245, March.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2004. "Corruption and Reform: An Introduction," NBER Working Papers 10775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Raven Saks, 2004. "Corruption in America," NBER Working Papers 10821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Di Tella, Rafael & Fisman, Raymond, 2004. "Are Politicians Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 477-513, October.
  9. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  10. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  11. Hanssen, F Andrew, 2000. "Independent Courts and Administrative Agencies: An Empirical Analysis of the States," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 534-71, October.
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