Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler? The Persistent Effect French Civil Law Has on Corruption, Institutions, and Incomes in Louisiana
Journal of Institutional Economics, Forthcoming
36 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2020 Last revised: 29 Jun 2021
Date Written: December 16, 2020
Louisiana consistently ranks as one of the most corrupt states in the nation. In fact, the Pelican State is the most corrupt state when looking at the most common indicator of corruption: corruption convictions per 100,000. What is less clear about Louisiana is how the state became corrupt. This paper seeks to provide the missing link. I argue that the high levels of corruption in the state can be explained by its origins in French civil law. This historical influence has perverse and persistent effects on the state, despite occurring over two hundred years ago. Through these origins in civil law, corruption in Louisiana impacts its economic institutions. These institutions then cause a variety of other bad outcomes in the state such as a high dependency on oil and low incomes. This argument implies that resource dependency is bad for development only when institutional quality is low. By linking legal origins to corruption, institutions, and economic outcomes, I seek to offer a clearer explanation for why Louisiana sets itself apart from other states in its politically corrupt environment.
Keywords: Corruption, Louisiana, French Civil Law, Institutional Quality, Regional Resource Curse, Regional Development
JEL Classification: D73, P48, R11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation