Corruption and Embedded Autonomy: A Cross-National Analysis of Forest Loss

  • Jamie Marie Sommer University of South Florida, USA


Previous research finds that the influences of colonial heritage on cultural norms and practices may have an effect on corruption levels. On the one hand, researchers argue that former colonies have higher levels of perceived corruption, due to the patrimonial systems colonizers set up. Others argue that the different legal systems colonizers imposed on nations are more susceptible to corruption than others, and some find this effect diminishes over time or where colonizers remained a minority. Moreover, scholars also suggest that non-colonized nations do not have the legal structures, political stability, and support from colonizers, and thus have higher levels of corruption. While this previous research contributes to our understanding of corruption as embedded in larger, historical structures, it does not consider how colonial processes shape how corruption impacts material outcomes in nations. Building on this previous research, the present study uses ordinary least squares regression (OLS) for a sample of 95 low- and middle-income nations from 2001 to 2014 to test how the impact of colonial forces, measured as domestic and international autonomy (the extent to which a nation is free of the direct control of external political actors), moderates the effect of corruption on forest loss.