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

  • Filipe R. Campante
  • Quoc-Anh Do

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19027.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Publication status: published as Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2014. "Isolated Capital Cities, Accountability, and Corruption: Evidence from US States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 104(8), pages 2456-81, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19027
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  1. Guimaraes, Bernardo & CAMPANTE, FILIPE R. & DO, Quoc-Anh, 2013. "Isolated capital cities and misgovernance: Theory and evidence," Textos para discussão 323, Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
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  5. James M. Snyder, Jr. & David Strömberg, 2008. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," NBER Working Papers 13878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Campante, Filipe R. & Do, Quoc-Anh, 2009. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration: Axiomatic Approach with an Application to Population and Capital Cities," Working Paper Series rwp09-005, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Ades, Alberto F & Glaeser, Edward L, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227, February.
  12. 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.
  13. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972, 08.
  14. 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.
  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.
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