Economics of Governance

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 211–227 | Cite as

No Pretense to Honesty: County Government Corruption in Mississippi

  • Gökhan R. Karahan
  • Laura Razzolini
  • William F. ShughartII
Original Paper


This paper explores the determinants of governmental corruption exploiting a unique dataset generated by “Operation Pretense”, an FBI investigation of county purchasing activities that ultimately led to the conviction of 55 of Mississippi’s 410 county supervisors, one county road foreman, two state highway commissioners and 13 vendors on bribery, extortion and other felony charges. Evidence is reported that corruption occurs more frequently in rural counties where voter-taxpayers have fewer years of schooling. Corruption is also more likely in counties where supervisors are paid more, ceteris paribus, casting doubt on the proposition that efficiency wages purchase honest public officials.


Corruption Rent seeking County governments Operation Pretense 

JEL Classification Numbers

D73 K42 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gökhan R. Karahan
    • 1
  • Laura Razzolini
    • 2
  • William F. ShughartII
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Finance and EconomicsNicholls State UniversityThibodauxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics, School of BusinessVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MississippiUniversityUSA

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