Polarization and Corruption in America

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Using panel data from the US states, we document a robust negative relationship between state-level government corruption and ideological polarization.
This finding is sustained when state polarization is instrumented using lagged
state neighbor ideology. We argue that polarization increases the expected costs
of engaging in corruption, especially deterring marginal low-level corruption.
Consistent with this thesis federal prosecutorial effort falls and case quality
increases with polarization. Tangible anti-corruption measures including the
stringency of state ethics’ laws and independent commissions for redistricting
are also associated with increased state polarization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103397
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean economic review
Early online date11 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

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