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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. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  2. 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.
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521632935 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 12707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Matthew Gentzkow & Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Rise of the Fourth Estate: How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered," NBER Working Papers 10791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. James M. Snyder, Jr. & David Strömberg, 2008. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," NBER Working Papers 13878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Filipe R. Campante & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "A Centered Index of Spatial Concentration : Axiomatic Approach with an Application to Population and Capital Cities," Development Economics Working Papers 22059, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  15. 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.
  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. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521659123 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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.
  19. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
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