Noah Buckley


"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.

I defended my dissertation in December 2016.

Papers Under Review and Conference Papers