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Weathering Corruption

  • Peter T. Leeson
  • Russell S. Sobel

Could bad weather be responsible for U.S. corruption? Natural disasters create resource windfalls in the states they strike by triggering federally provided natural-disaster relief. By increasing the benefit of fraudulent appropriation and creating new opportunities for such theft, disaster-relief windfalls may also increase corruption. We investigate this hypothesis by exploring the effect of disaster relief provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on public corruption. The results support our hypothesis. Each additional $100 per capita in FEMA relief increases the average state's corruption by nearly 102 percent. Our findings suggest notoriously corrupt regions of the United States, such as the Gulf Coast, are in part notoriously corrupt because natural disasters frequently strike them. They attract more disaster relief, which makes them more corrupt. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/590129
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 51 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 667-681

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:51:y:2008:i:4:p:667-681
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1998. "Redistributive Public Employment," NBER Working Papers 6746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2006. "Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number glae06-1, May.
  3. Russell Sobel & Peter Leeson, 2006. "Government's response to Hurricane Katrina: A public choice analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 55-73, April.
  4. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  5. Goel, Rajeev K & Nelson, Michael A, 1998. " Corruption and Government Size: A Disaggregated Analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 107-20, October.
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