Public Choice

, Volume 97, Issue 1–2, pp 107–120 | Cite as

Corruption and government size: A disaggregated analysis

  • Rajeev K. Goel
  • Michael A. Nelson


Using annual state-level data over 1983–1987, this paper examines the effect of government size on corruption by public officials by including both demand and supply side incentives for engaging in corrupt practices. Our objectives are twofold. First, we assess the relationship between the incidence of corruption and overall measures of the size of the federal government and the state-local sector in each state. Second, we explore what kinds of government activities are more likely to be successful in deterring abuse of public office. Our results are generally supportive of Becker's “crime and punishment” model. Regarding the primary focus of the paper, our results show that government size, in particular spending by state governments, does indeed have a strong positive influence on corruption.


Public Finance Positive Influence Federal Government State Government Public Office 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajeev K. Goel
    • 1
  • Michael A. Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsIllinois State UniversityNormalU.S.A.

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