Don't Blame the Weather: Federal Natural Disaster Aid and Public Corruption
Previous research using data on convictions for corruption-related crimes from the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice points to a positive correlation between the amount of corruption in a state and the amount of federal funds provided to the state for natural disaster relief. We take a closer look at the relation between public corruption and disaster assistance using more detailed data on corruption convictions for an expanded time period. Our analysis provides little support for the hypothesis that the provision of federal disaster aid increases public corruption. It suggests instead that prior evidence of such a linkage arises from an unexplained correlation during the 1990's between disaster aid and convictions of postal employees for crimes such as stealing mail. Convictions for postal service crimes appear to account for a large fraction of the total federal convictions reported by PIN, which could have far reaching implications given that the PIN data have been used so extensively in the corruption literature.
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