"Calculating Corruption: Political Competition and Bribery under Authoritarianism"
Why do some authoritarian regimes exhibit high levels of corruption, while others produce very little? In my dissertation, I build and test a theory of the use of corruption as a signal of performance in autocratic regimes. I show that leaders of non-democratic regimes reduce corruption in the face of political competitiveness. I test this theory using extensive micro-level data on the public’s experiences with bribery in modern-era Russia. This data represents over 180,000 responses to public opinion surveys from 2001-2016 in Russian subnational units. Identification of the causal effect of political competition on corruption is achieved with the use of an exogenously-determined electoral calendar. I also contribute to the measurement of corruption: a wide array of alternative measures including novel search engine data and crime statistics support my conclusions that competition affect corruption levels even in autocratic regimes, as corruption is a useful signal of agents’ performance and loyalty in competitive authoritarian regimes.
Papers Under Review and Conference Papers
- “What Use is Corruption? Authoritarian Regimes and Discriminating Bribery”
- Presented at the 2015 Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco
- “Of Bribes and Badges: Measuring Police Corruption in Russia” (with Timothy Frye)
- In a highly corrupt setting, is bribepaying associated with less trust in government? We seek to improve on existing literature of the relationship between corruption and political attitudes by employing a list experiment, a less obtrusive means of measuring responses to sensitive issues such as bribery (Kuklinski et al. 1997). We then apply a version of Blair and Imai (2012) to generate estimates of the individual-level determinants of bribery that are used to assess the relationship between bribery and trust in government. Using an original survey of the mass public in Russia conducted in December 2012, we find that paying a bribe to the police is associated not only with lower trust in the police, but also with lower trust in the government more generally. This suggests a hidden social cost to low level bribery that is rarely recognized.
- Presented at at MPSA 2013