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The Political Economy of Institutions and Corruption in American States

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  • James E. Alt
  • David Dreyer Lassen

Abstract

Theoretically, this paper draws on political agency theory to formulate hypotheses. Empirically, it shows that political institutions have a role in explaining the prevalence of political corruption in American states. In the states, a set of democracies where the rule of law is relatively well established and the confounding effects of differing electoral systems and regimes are absent, institutional variables relating to the openness of the political system inhibit corruption. That is, other things equal, the extent to which aspiring politicians can enter and gain financial backing, and to which voters can focus their votes on policies and thereby hold incumbent politicians accountable for policy outcomes and find substitutes for them if dissatisfied with those outcomes, reduce corruption as a general problem of agency. These institutional effects are estimated in the presence of controls for variables representing other approaches.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:02-16
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/epru/files/wp/wp-02-16.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2008. "Mauritania : Anti-Corruption Study," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12731, The World Bank.
    2. Stefan Voigt, 2011. "Positive constitutional economics II—a survey of recent developments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 205-256, January.
    3. Ghulam Shabbir & Mumtaz Anwar, 2007. "Determinants of Corruption in Developing Countries," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 751-764.
    4. Goel, Rajeev K. & Korhonen, Iikka, 2011. "Exports and cross-national corruption: A disaggregated examination," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 109-124, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Stefan Voigt & Lorenz Blume, "undated". "The Economic Effects of Direct Democracy - A Cross-Country Assessment," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2006-1-1144, Berkeley Electronic Press.
    7. Armantier, Olivier & Boly, Amadou, 2011. "A controlled field experiment on corruption," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1072-1082.
    8. 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.
    9. Pethe, Abhay & Tandel, Vaidehi & Gandhi, Sahil, 2012. "Unravelling the anatomy of legal corruption in India: Focusing on the ‘honest graft’ by the politicians," MPRA Paper 39306, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Toke S. Aidt, 2009. "Corruption, institutions, and economic development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 271-291, Summer.
    11. Nobuo Akai & Yusaku Horiuchi & Masayo Sakata, 2005. "Short-run and Long-run Effects of Corruption on Economic Growth: Evidence from State-Level Cross-Section Data for the United States," International and Development Economics Working Papers idec05-5, International and Development Economics.
    12. Filipe R Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2013. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption Evidence from US States: Evidence from US States," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2013-01, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    13. 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.
    14. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
    15. Agnese Sacchi & Aline Pennisi, 2013. "Is direct democracy a problem or a promise for fiscal outcomes? The case of the United States," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0178, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    16. Christian, Bjørnskov, 2003. "Corruption and Social Capital," Working Papers 03-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    17. Iwasaki, Ichiro & Suzuki, Taku, 2012. "The determinants of corruption in transition economies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 54-60.
    18. 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.
    19. Aidt, T.S., 2010. "Corruption and Sustainable Development," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1061, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    20. Lawrence Blume & Jens Müller & Stefan Voigt, 2007. "The Economic Effects of Direct Democracy – A First Global Assessment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2149, CESifo Group Munich.

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