The 10 Most (and Least) Corrupt States in America


Corruption of state governments costs American taxpayers billions of dollars each year, according to a new study by researchers at Indiana University and City University of Hong Kong that reports on the risk of corruption and lack of accountability in all 50 states.

Corrupt states spend more, the study found. Nine out of the ten most corrupt states spend $1,308 — or 5.2% — more per person in public expenditures than the national average.

To establish the rankings, researchers looked at state spending patterns and analyzed 25,000 convictions of public officials who violated federal anti-corruption laws between 1976 and 2008.

According to the study, the ten most corrupt U.S. states are —

  1. Mississippi
  2. Louisiana
  3. Tennessee
  4. Illinois
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Alabama
  7. Alaska
  8. South Dakota
  9. Kentucky
  10. Florida

The ten least corrupt states are—

  1. Oregon
  2. Washington
  3. Minnesota
  4. Nebraska
  5. Iowa
  6. Vermont
  7. Utah
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Colorado
  10. Kansas

Other findings:

  • Corrupt states spend more on construction, capital and highway projects; such infrastructure projects tend to lack clear money trails and involve an industry dominated by a few large firms, making them more susceptible to bribes, kickbacks and extortion;
  • Government employees enjoy higher salaries in more corrupt states;
  • Corrupt states are more likely to engage in deficit financing, which makes it easier to hide the true cost of government spending from the public;
  • Corrupt states spend more on law enforcement and prisons; and
  • Corruption results in less money for education at all levels, public welfare, health and hospitals.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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