Political Corruption and Fractionalization in the United States: Federal Convictions, Public Perceptions, and Societal Diversity

Kenneth Robert White


In this paper, I examine political corruption as a consequence of societal fractionalization in the 48 contiguous United States. I employ three measures of societal fractionalization—income inequality, racial fractionalization, and religious fractionalization—in an effort to determine whether the demographic characteristics of a given state can predict the amount of corruption it reports. I examine two measures of corruption—federal convictions, and perceived corruption. I find strong support for a connection between income inequality and both measures of corruption, such that increased income inequality is associated with an increase in both real and perceived corruption. Racial and religious fractionalization are both positively and significantly correlated with at least one measure of corruption, but not to the extent of income inequality. I control for several combinations of variables designed to examine different aspects of the United States, particularly with respect to the differences in racial diversity, religious diversity, and key differences between the northern and southern regions of the country. I conclude with a brief discussion of my results and their implications for future study.


Corruption, Diversity, Fractionalization

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