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Decentralization of the Size and Scope of Local Governments and Corruption

  • Rajeev K. Goel
  • Michael A. Nelson

This research adds to the literature on the nexus between government and corruption by examining further the influence of government decentralization on corruption. Previous research has focused primarily on fiscal decentralization. We bring additional evidence to bear for the United States by addressing whether the structure of local governments – measured both in terms of the scope of services offered and the size of the population served – has a bearing on corruption within the state. Results show that government decentralization does not necessarily reduce corruption – the type of decentralization matters. Specifically, we find that more general-purpose governments consistently contribute to corruption. In contrast, the effect of special-purpose governments on corruption is mixed. The findings uniquely flush out the tension between fiscal decentralization and fragmental local government structures in terms of impacts on corruption. Beyond this, we find that the influences of various government enforcement agencies on corruption, including police, judiciary and corrections, vary. Other corruption determinants generally support the literature. Policy implications are discussed.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series Working Papers CEB with number 10-031.

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Length: 35 p.
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published by:
Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/57625
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  12. Mikael Priks, 2007. "Judiciaries in Corrupt Societies," CESifo Working Paper Series 2008, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Jan K. Brueckner, 1999. "Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: The Effects of Local Corruption and Tax Evasion," CEMA Working Papers 1, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics, revised Apr 2000.
  14. Toke S. Aidt, 2003. "Economic analysis of corruption: a survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages F632-F652, November.
  15. Goel, Rajeev K. & Nelson, Michael A., 2010. "Causes of corruption: History, geography and government," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 433-447, July.
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  18. Mookherjee, Dilip & Png, I P L, 1995. "Corruptible Law Enforcers: How Should They Be Compensated?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 145-59, January.
  19. Johann Graf Lambsdorff & Sitki Utku Teksoz, 2002. "Corrupt Relational Contracting," Departmental Discussion Papers 113, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
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  25. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  26. Goel, Rajeev K & Nelson, Michael A, 1998. " Corruption and Government Size: A Disaggregated Analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 107-20, October.
  27. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  28. Goel, Rajeev K. & Nelson, Michael A., 2007. "Are corrupt acts contagious?: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 839-850.
  29. G. Gulsun Arikan, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Remedy for Corruption?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 175-195, 03.
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