Political Polarization as a Constraint on Government: Evidence from Corruption

World Development. 39(9):1516-1529.

Posted: 18 Aug 2005 Last revised: 20 Jan 2015

David S. Brown

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science

Michael Touchton

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science

Andrew B. Whitford

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Efforts to explain corruption have increased dramatically over the last few years. The interest stems from the increasing weight economists assign to corruption when explaining economic growth and from the availability of data that measure it. Much of the effort centers on how political institutions influence perceptions of corruption. We move this debate in a new and fertile direction by addressing a previously ignored dimension: ideological polarization. Specifically, we contend that perceptions of corruption are determined not only by specific institutional features of the political system - elements of voting systems, ballot structures, or the existence of checks and balances - but by who sits at the controls. We employ pooled cross-sectional data for a broad variety of countries to test our theoretical argument. Contrary to recent findings by both economists and political scientists, we show that ideological polarization is a robust predictor of corruption.

Keywords: Corruption, political institutions, political polarization

JEL Classification: D72, K4, O57, 010

Suggested Citation

Brown, David S. and Touchton, Michael and Whitford, Andrew B., Political Polarization as a Constraint on Government: Evidence from Corruption (2011). World Development. 39(9):1516-1529.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=782845 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.782845

David S. Brown

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science ( email )

333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
United States

Michael Touchton

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Political Science ( email )

333 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
United States

Andrew B. Whitford (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-2898 (Phone)
706-583-0610 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://andrewwhitford.com

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