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Public Choice

More Politicians, More Corruption: Evidence from Swedish Municipalities

Journal Article
Bergh, Andreas, Günther Fink and Richard Öhrvall (2017). “More Politicians, More Corruption: Evidence from Swedish Municipalities”. Public Choice 172, 483–500.

Andreas Bergh, Günther Fink, Richard Öhrvall

In the literature on political economy and public choice, it is typically assumed that government size correlates positively with public corruption. The empirical literature, however, is inconclusive, owing to both measurement problems and endogeneity. This paper creates a corruption index based on original data from a survey covering top politicians and civil servants in all Swedish municipalities. The effect of more politicians on corruption problems is analyzed using discontinuities in the required minimum size of local councils. Despite the fact that Sweden consistently has been ranked among the least corrupt countries in the world, the survey suggest that non-trivial corruption problems are present in Sweden. Municipalities with more local council seats have more reported corruption problems, and the regression discontinuity design suggests that the effect is causal.