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Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from US States

Listed author(s):
  • Campante, Filipe R.

    (Harvard University)

  • Do, Quoc-Anh

    (Singapore Management University)

We show that isolated capital cities are robustly associated with greater levels of corruption across US states. In particular, this is the case when we use the variation induced by the exogenous location of a state's centroid to instrument for the concentration of population around the capital city. We then show that different mechanisms for holding state politicians accountable are also affected by the spatial distribution of population: newspapers provide greater coverage of state politics when their audiences are more concentrated around the capital, and voter turnout in state elections is greater in places that are closer to the capital. Consistent with lower accountability, there is also evidence that there is more money in state-level political campaigns in those states with isolated capitals. We find that the role of media accountability helps explain the connection between isolated capitals and corruption. In addition, we provide some evidence that this pattern is also associated with lower levels of public good spending and outcomes.

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File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8379&type=WPN
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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp12-016.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-016
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  1. Daniel Lederman & Norman V. Loayza & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "Accountability And Corruption: Political Institutions Matter," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17, pages 1-35, 03.
  2. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate. How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Chapters,in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 187-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
  4. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, 01.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521659123 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Campante, Filipe Robin & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2009. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration: Axiomatic Approach with an Application to Population and Capital Cities," Scholarly Articles 4481653, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  8. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do & Bernardo Guimaraes, 2014. "Capital Cities, Conflict, and Misgovernance: Theory and Evidence," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2014-13, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
  9. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
  10. Albert Saiz & Uri Simonsohn, 2013. "Proxying For Unobservable Variables With Internet Document-Frequency," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 137-165, 02.
  11. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2014. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability, and Corruption: Evidence from US States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2456-2481, August.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
  13. James M. Snyder & David Strömberg, 2010. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(2), pages 355-408, 04.
  14. Campante, Filipe R. & Do, Quoc-Anh & Guimaraes, Bernardo, 2012. "Isolated Capital Cities and Misgovernance: Theory and Evidence," Working Paper Series rwp12-058, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  15. Davis, James C. & Henderson, J. Vernon, 2003. "Evidence on the political economy of the urbanization process," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 98-125, January.
  16. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2002. "The Political Economy of Institutions and Corruption in American States," EPRU Working Paper Series 02-16, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  17. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
  18. 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.
  19. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227.
  20. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2014. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability, and Corruption: Evidence from US States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2456-2481, August.
  21. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521632935 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2010. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration: Expected Influence Approach," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7t0dp4mp828, Sciences Po.
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