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Study: State government corruption linked to isolated capitol cities

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(KTVI) – A new study from Harvard University links corruption levels in state government with the geographic isolation of the capitol city. The study says that the farther away the capitol city is from state population centers then the higher rates for corruption in state government.  Illinois is at the top of the list when ranking US states’ capitols distance away from population centers when adjusted for state size.  Missouri ranks #8 on the same list.

The researchers show that mechanisms for holding politicians accountable are affected by the distance from major cities. News media provide greater coverage when their audiences are concentrated around the state capitol. Voter turnout in state elections is also greater in towns that are closer to the capital.

The Harvard researchers say there is also evidence that more money flows into state level campaigns of politicians in states with isolated capitols.  They say that this pattern is also associated with lower levels of, “public good spending.”

The study concludes that the role of the news media is the connection between isolated capitols and corruption. More news coverage can lead to higher turn-out for state level elections.  This leads to politicians being more accountable to voters.

Read the full study here: Harvard.edu

10 states with least concentrated populations around the capitol. (Adjusted for state size):

  1.  Illinois
  2.  South Dakota
  3. Nevada
  4. Florida
  5. Delaware
  6.  North Dakota
  7. Alabama
  8. Missouri
  9.  New York
  10. South CarolinaScreenshot_9