This paper contributes to the literature by examining whether conclusions from empirical models of corruption determinants are robust with respect to three alternative measures of corrupt activity for the US states. Are the determinants of US corruption sensitive to the choice of the measure of corruption? Overall, the answer to this question is that the choice of the measure of corruption matters in explaining corruption. However, some findings are robust across measures. For instance, greater educational attainment lowers corruption, while greater judicial employment adds to corruption. Southern states were found to be more corrupt, ceteris paribus. We also provide evidence that it is important to control for enforcement efforts in empirical modeling using convictions as a measure of corruption. Significant differences, however, across corruption measures occur in a number of other instances. Specifically, the effects of urbanization, economic prosperity, population size, media, government spending, and enforcement are sensitive to the measure of corruption. Further, the influences of the nation’s foreign neighbors and of the location of the state relative to the nation’s capital remain unclear.
Source: “Measures of corruption and determinants of US corruption” from Economics of Governance