Corruption and ReformLessons from America's Economic History

Corruption and ReformLessons from America's Economic History

Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226299570

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Despite recent corporate scandals, the United States is among the world's least corrupt nations. But in the nineteenth century, the degree of fraud and corruption in America approached that of today's most corrupt developing nations, as municipal governments and robber barons alike found new ways to steal from taxpayers and swindle investors. This book explores this shadowy period of United States history in search of better methods to fight corruption worldwide today. The chapters address the measurement and consequences of fraud and corruption and the forces that ultimately led to their decline within the United States. The chapters show that various approaches to reducing corruption have met with success, such as deregulation, particularly “free banking,” in the 1830s. In the 1930s, corruption was kept in check when new federal bureaucracies replaced local administrations in doling out relief. Another deterrent to corruption was the independent press, which kept a watchful eye over government and business.

Table of Contents

I Corruption and Reform

Corruption and Reform: Introduction

Ekmeleddin L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin

3 Digging the Dirt at Public Expense

Stanley L. Engerman and Kenneth L. Sokoloff

II Consequences of Corruption

5 Water, Water Everywhere

David Cutler and Grant Miller

III The Road to Reform

6 The Rise of the Fourth Estate

Matthew Gentzkow, Edward L. Glaeser, and Claudia Goldin

IV Reform and Regulation

9 The Irony of Reform

Price V. Fishback

10 The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform

Marc T. Law and Gary D. Libecap

11 Politics, Relief, and Reform

John Joseph Wallis, Price V. Fishback, andShawn Kantor