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

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  • Filipe R. Campante
  • Quoc-Anh Do

Abstract

We show that isolated capital cities are robustly associated with greater levels of corruption across US states, in line with the view that this isolation reduces accountability, and in contrast with the alternative hypothesis that it might forestall political capture. We then provide direct evidence that the spatial distribution of population relative to the capital affects different accountability mechanisms over state politics: newspaper coverage, voter knowledge and information, and turnout. We also find evidence against the capture hypothesis: isolated capitals are associated with more money in state-level campaigns. Finally, we show that isolation is linked with worse public good provision.

Suggested Citation

  • Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2013. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from US States," NBER Working Papers 19027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19027
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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, February.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. James E. Alt & David Dreyer Lassen, 2003. "The Political Economy of Institutions and Corruption in American States," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 15(3), pages 341-365, July.
    9. 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.
    10. 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, March.
    11. 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.
    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, April.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
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    21. 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.
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    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
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R50 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - General

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