517 research outputs found

    The Political Economy of Institutions and Corruption in American States.

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    Theoretically, this paper draws on political agency theory to formulate hypotheses. Empirically, it shows that political institutions have a role in explaining the prevalence of political corruption in American states. In the states, a set of democracies where the rule of law is relatively well established and the confounding effects of differing electoral systems and regimes are absent, institutional variables relating to the openness of the political system inhibit corruption. That is, other things equal, the extent to which aspiring politicians can enter and gain financial backing, and to which voters can focus their votes on policies and thereby hold incumbent politicians accountable for policy outcomes and find substitutes for them if dissatisfied with those outcomes, reduce corruption as a general problem of agency. These institutional effects are estimated in the presence of controls for variables representing other approaches.

    Inequality and Corruption: Evidence from US States

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    High-quality data on state-level inequality and incomes, panel data on corruption convictions, and careful attention to the consequences of including or excluding fixed effects in the panel specification allow us to estimate the impact of income considerations on the decision to undertake corrupt acts. Following efficiency wage arguments, for a given institutional environment the corruptible employee’s or official’s decision to engage in corruption is affected by relative wages and expected tenure in the public sector, the probability of detection, the cost of fines and jail terms, and the degree of inequality, which indicate diminished prospects facing those convicted of corruption. In US states over 25 years we show that inequality and higher government relative wages significantly and robustly produce less corruption. This reverses other findings of a positive association between inequality and corruption, which we show arises from long-run joint causation by unobserved factors.corruption; rent seeking; inequality; Gini coefficient; efficiency wage; public sector wages

    Enforcement and Public Corruption: Evidence from US States

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    We use high-quality panel data on corruption convictions, new panels of assistant U.S. attorneys and relative public sector wages, and careful attention to the consequences of modeling endogeneity to estimate the impact of prosecutorial resources on criminal convictions of those who undertake corrupt acts. Consistent with “system capacity” arguments, we find that greater prosecutor resources result in more convictions for corruption, other things equal. We find more limited, recent evidence for the deterrent effect of increased prosecutions. We control for and confirm in a panel context the effects of many previously identified correlates and causes of corruption. By explicitly determining the allocation of prosecutorial resources endogenously from past corruption convictions and political considerations, we show that this specification leads to larger estimates of the effect of resources on convictions. The results are robust to various ways of measuring the number of convictions as well as to various estimators.corruption; rent seeking; enforcement; efficiency wage; public sector wages; system capacity

    The Political Budget Cycle is Where You Can't See It: Transparency and Fiscal Manipulation

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    We investigate the effects of fiscal transparency and political polarization on the prevalence of electoral cycles in fiscal balance. The recent political economy literature on electoral cycles identifies such cycles mainly in weak and recent democracies. In contrast, we show, conditioning on a new index of institutional fiscal transparency, that electoral cycles in fiscal balance are a feature also of advanced industrialized economies. Using a sample of nineteen OECD countries in the 1990’s, we identify a persistent pattern of electoral cycles in low(er) transparency countries, while no such cycles can be observed in high(er) transparency countries. Furthermore, we find, in accordance with recent theory, that electoral cycles are larger in more politically polarized countries.fiscal transparency; political polarization; fiscal policy; budget deficits; political budget cycles; electoral policy cycles

    Political and Judicial Checks on Corruption: Evidence from American State Governments

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    The paper investigates the effects of checks and balances on corruption. Within a presidential system, effective separation of powers is achieved under divided government, with the executive and legislative branches being controlled by different political parties. When government is unified, no effective separation exists even within a presidential system, but, we argue, can be partially restored by having an accountable judiciary. Our empirical findings show that divided government and elected, rather than appointed, state supreme court judges are associated with lower corruption and, furthermore, that the effect of an accountable judiciary is stronger under unified government, where government cannot control itself. The effect of an accountable judiciary seems to be driven primarily by judges chosen through direct elections, rather than those exposed to a retention vote following appointment.separation of powers; corruption; rent seeking; checks and balances; political institutions; judicial independence; rule of law

    Fiscal Transparency and Fiscal Policy Outcomes in OECD Countries.

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    It is widely believed and often argued that fiscal, or budgetary, transparency has large, positive effects on fiscal performance. However, the evidence linking transparency and fiscal policy outcomes is far from compelling. We present a career-concerns model with political parties to analyze the effects of fiscal transparency on public debt accumulation. To test the predictions of the model, we construct a replicable index of fiscal transparency. Simultaneous estimates of debt and transparency on 19-country OECD data strongly confirm that a higher degree of fiscal transparency is associated with lower public debt and deficits.

    The Causes of Fiscal Transparency: Evidence from the American States

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    We use unique panel data on the evolution of transparent budget procedures in the American states over the past three decades to explore the political and economic determinants of fiscal transparency. Our case studies and quantitative analysis suggest that both politics and fiscal policy outcomes influence the level of transparency. More equal political competition and power sharing are associated with both greater levels of fiscal transparency and increases in fiscal transparency during the sample period. Political polarization and past fiscal conditions, in particular state government debt and budget imbalance, also appear to affect the level of transparency.

    The Causes of Fiscal Transparency: Evidence from the U.S. States

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    We use unique panel data on the evolution of transparent budget procedures in the U.S. states over the past three decades to explore the political and economic determinants of fiscal transparency. Our case studies and quantitative analysis suggest that both politics and fiscal policy outcomes influence the level of transparency. More equal political competition and power sharing are associated with both greater levels of and increases in fiscal transparency during the sample period. Political polarization and past fiscal conditions, in particular state government debt and budget imbalances, also appear to affect the level of transparency. Copyright 2006, International Monetary Fund
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