A Reply to a Replication of “Weathering Corruption” ( Journal of Law and Economics, 2008)

Different Data Produce Different Results

Originally published in Public Finance Review

Cordis and Milyo replicate our study, which found a positive relationship between FEMA-provided disaster relief and public corruption in the US states. Our study used the corruption data that virtually every study of American corruption uses: PIN data. Using the same data, Cordis and Milyo find the same result. And using different corruption data from TRAC, they find a different result: no relationship between FEMA-provided disaster relief and public corruption. Unsurprisingly, different data produce different results. The meaning of that difference, however, is unclear, especially since the latter result, which implies that public actors do not respond rationally to incentives when making decisions regarding corrupt activities, contradicts the law of demand.

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