Fat people are more prone to corruption; physical characteristics of politicians such as their body‐mass index can be used as proxy variables for political corruption when the latter are not available, for instance at a very local level.

Jul 25, 2020

We collected 299 frontal face images of 2017 cabinet ministers from 15 post‐Soviet states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). For each image, the minister’s body‐mass index is estimated using a computer vision algorithm. The median estimated body‐mass index of cabinet ministers is highly correlated with conventional measures of corruption (Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, World Bank worldwide governance indicator Control of Corruption, Index of Public Integrity). This result suggests that physical characteristics of politicians such as their body‐mass index can be used as proxy variables for political corruption when the latter are not available, for instance at a very local level.

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