Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 179-193

First online:

Democracy and political corruption: A cross-national comparison

  • H.-E. SungAffiliated withThe National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University

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Past research on democracy and politicalcorruption produced mixed results becauseof differences in sampling and analyticalmethods. Moreover, an important shortcominghas been researchers' focus on detectinglinear effects alone. In the current study,I statistically controlled for potentiallyconfounding economic factors and usedhierarchical polynomial regression toevaluate the form of thedemocracy-corruption relationship. Resultsshowed that a cubic function best fittedthe data. Despite eruptions of corruptionamong intermediate democracies, theconsolidation of advanced democraticinstitutions eventually reduced corruption.Ultimately, the initial politicalconditions and the final democraticachievements determined the magnitude ofpolitical corruption in a country.