Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Public Administration and Policy

Advisor/Committee Chair

Sally Friedman, Ph.D.


This study seeks to build upon the limited body of research that focuses on the causes and effects of governmental corruption. With an emphasis on supplementing previous findings and expanding their scope, this study seeks to identify factors that explain variations in the level of corruption between different jurisdictions. This study uses federal conviction data from the 50 US states to measure corruption, controlling for population and government employees, the latter of which has not been done previously. To identify and quantify independent variables, this study employed various governmental, scholarly and nonprofit sources. New variables were employed while also enlisting previously studied variables. This study observes linear associations between these two sets of variables, and models them using linear and quadratic regressions. The data suggests that most previously studied variables had observed relationships with corruption that concur with the findings of previous scholars, although the strength of these relationships varied. Several previously untested variables also appear to have important relationships with corruption. When conducting regression analyses, it appears that state poverty rates and GINI indexes best explain variation in states’ corruption levels. The proportion of state legislative seats held by women, high school diploma attainment (or higher) rates, and to a lesser extent, voter eligible turnout, also explained these differences.