DOI: 10.5176/2251-2403_PSSIR52

Authors: Linjing Wang


Institutions have dominated explanations of political corruption. For instance, political and judicial institutions play an important role in explaining corruption in the American states. This empirical study focuses on the effects of judicial institutions upon corruption convictions in 1997, 2002, and 2007. The results indicate that the strength of law enforcement is positively associated with corruption convictions in the states when controlling the number of public employees; and that surprisingly, severity of punishment is positively associated with corruption convictions and takes away the explaining effect of the strength of law enforcement. The coefficient is statistically significant and consistent in all years. Contrary to the prediction deduced from the Becker’s (1968) theory that severe punishment can compensate a lower probability, this empirical finding suggests states with severe punishment have more corruption convictions.

Keywords: Corruption; punishment; institutions; United States

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