The Impact of Public Officials’ Corruption on the Size and Allocation of U.S. State Spending
This article demonstrates the impact of public officials’ corruption on the size and allocation of U.S. state spending. Extending two theories of “excessive” government expansion, the authors argue that public officials’ corruption should cause state spending to be artificially elevated. Corruption increased state spending over the period 1997–2008. During that time, the 10 most corrupt states could have reduced their total annual expenditure by an average of $1,308 per capita—5.2 percent of the mean per capita state expenditure—if corruption had been at the average level of the states. Moreover, at the expense of social sectors, corruption is likely to distort states’ public resource allocations in favor of higher‐potential “bribe‐generating” spending and items directly beneficial to public officials, such as capital, construction, highways, borrowing, and total salaries and wages. The authors use an objective, concrete, and consistent measurement of corruption, the number of convictions.
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