From robocalls to vote buying to electoral intimidation scholars have identified many ways that politicians mobilize voters to the polls. We develop a simple argument about the conditions under which autocrats will use positive inducements such as vote buying and negative inducement such as employee coercion of workers. Using survey experiments and crowd-sourced electoral violation reports from the 2011-12 election cycle in Russia, we find little evidence that vote buying was practiced on a large scale in this election. This finding is consistent with arguments about the decline of vote buying in middle-income countries. Voter intimidation, however, was relatively common, especially among employed voters and in Russia’s many single company towns where employers have much leverage over employees. In these single company towns, the consequences of job loss are so grave that employer intimidation may often be sufficient to induce compliance even without direct monitoring of voter behavior. Outside of company towns where employers have less leverage, active forms of monitoring may supplement intimidation in order to encourage compliance. These results suggest that employers can be reliable vote brokers; that voter intimidation can persist in a middle-income country; and that, under some conditions intimidation may be employed without the need for active monitoring.
Available evidence indicates that there is considerable variation among autocracies in the extent to which subnational officials are rewarded for economic growth. Why is economic performance used as a criterion for appointment in some autocracies but not in others? We argue that in more competitive—though still autocratic—regimes, the political imperatives of maintaining an electoral machine that can win semi-competitive elections leads regime leaders to abandon cadre policies that promote economic development. Using data on turnover among high-level economic bureaucrats in Russia’s 89 regions between 2001 and 2012, we find that performance-based appointments are more frequent in less competitive regions. These findings demonstrate one way that semi-competitive elections can actually undermine economic development under autocracy
This paper considers Russian income inequality in relation to the trend toward rising inequality in the US and in most parts of the world. Income and wealth inequality in Russia has been rising except in periods when the economy is in recession, and wealth inequality in Russia is now highest in the world. The analysis shows that inequality trends in Russia share some characteristics with other developed and developing economies, including technological change, increased integration in the global economy, and the capitalization of rent streams. Financialization and dependence on natural resource extraction contribute strongly to both cross-sectional and cross-regional inequality in Russia. The absence of institutions for aggregating broad competing social interests-- whether corporatist or partisan--restricts the capacity of the political system to set agreed rules governing the distribution of the burdens and benefits of economic growth. As in other political systems, both democratic and authoritarian, high inequality undermines the state's ability to provide public goods that would contribute both to inclusive economic growth and a growing middle class.
Which incentives have the strongest impact on the size of the informal economy? Is it about government’s pressure against entrepreneurs operating in this sector, or is it about the benefits of legality? The goal of this paper is to explicitly contrast the role of sticks (court repressiveness) and carrots (financial aid to small and medium-sized firms) as factors determining the size of the informal economy, using the case of the Russian taxi market. It uses a unique dataset of taxi licensing data from regional transport departments and indicators for taxi market demand and supply to estimate the extent of informal business. When controlling for market demand and supply, it finds a strong and robust positive effect of sanctions on the size of the official market, with higher repressiveness leading to a smaller informal economy. In contrast, the effect of carrots was insignificant. The results suggest that the effectiveness of carrot policies is compromised when entrepreneurs operate informally to avoid dealing with corrupt bureaucrats and have low trust in the government.
The paper examines the role of testosterone-driven aggressive behavior in politics of non-democratic regimes and, in particular, its influence on the extent of the repressiveness of these regimes. To measure testosterone exposure, we apply the facial width-to-height metric (fWHR) – a standard proxy widely used in the psychological literature - and look at a sample of Russian regional governors. We find a positive relationship between the fWHR metric and the level of repression in the region of the governor. Testosterone-related behavior is, however, more widespread among younger governors and among governors with shorter tenure in office. Thus, the paper contributes to the recent trend of integrating insights of behavioral economics into political economics research.
Does decentralization affect how voters attribute blame for poor economic performance? The question of whether political centralization ties regime leaders to local economic outcomes is particularly important in authoritarian regimes, where economic performance legitimacy is a key source of regime stability. Using political and economic data from large Russian cities for the period 2003-2012, we investigate whether replacing direct mayoral elections with appointments affects the way voters attribute blame for economic outcomes. Using a difference-in-differences design, we find that the ruling party is more likely to be punished for poor economic performance in cities with appointed mayors than it is in cities with elected mayors.
Upgrading skill formation has become an increasingly urgent task for societies facing the challenges of rapid technological change and globalization. However, reform of systems of vocational education and training (VET) poses severe challenges for aligning the interests of schools, firms, households, and governments, even in societies with relatively efficient markets for labor and education. Where market institutions are poorly developed, these challenges are particularly acute, resulting in endemic mismatches between the supply and demand of skill. Currently governments in many countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, are seeking to adopt elements of the German dual education model. The Russian federal government has undertaken several initiatives designed to upgrade VET by encouraging closer cooperation of vocational schools and firms at the regional level, including the adoption of dual education programs. This paper focuses on one such project: a 2013 pilot program administered by the Russian Agency for Strategic Initiatives, to foster the development of new models of dual education. The paper compares the 13 pilot regions with regions that submitted proposals but were not selected and with all other regions along multiple economic, social, demographic, and institutional dimensions. The findings suggest hypotheses about the conditions that enabled the pilot regions to take advantage of federal policies encouraging the adoption of dual education. More generally, the paper sheds light on institutional solutions to collective action dilemmas in skill formation in transitional and developing societies.
In recent decades, the regions of Russia have taken different paths of regime transition. Despite the consolidation of an autocratic regime at national level and the centralization steered by Vladimir Putin’s government, the variation across sub-national regimes persists. Using an innovative theoretical framework, this book explores both causes and consequences of democratization in the regions of Russia. It is the first study in the field to systematically integrate structural and agency approaches in order to account for economic, social, historical and international causes of democratization and to trace its consequences. By focusing on the challenging and under-studied topic of sub-national regimes, the book provides a unique perspective on regime transition and the new theoretical framework contributes to a better understanding of democratization world-wide. The book will be of key interest to scholars and students of democratization, sub-national regimes, East European politics, comparative politics, post-communism, and international relations.
The growing attention of governments, international organizations and NGOs to public procurement issues over the last two decades has been accompanied by many studies on the efficiency of public procurement. However, few researchers have considered the costs of procurement regulation for public customers and private suppliers. This problem is especially acute for the public procurement system in Russia. In this paper we propose an approach to measuring public customers’ procurement costs. We test this approach with the data on a large Russian public customer: Voronezh State University. We show that the proposed approach is universal and can be applied at a micro level by other public customers to measure the efficiency of their procurement and to optimize the costs. This approach can also be used as a basis for a larger inquiry into the costs and effectiveness of procurement at the level of regional authorities or sectoral ministries.
Vladimir Putin has managed to achieve strikingly high public approval ratings throughout his time as president and prime minister of Russia. But is his popularity real, or are respondents lying to pollsters? We conducted a series of list experiments in early 2015 to estimate support for Putin while allowing respondents to maintain ambiguity about whether they personally do so. Our estimates suggest support for Putin of approximately 80%, which is within 10 percentage points of that implied by direct questioning. We find little evidence that these estimates are positively biased due to the presence of floor effects. In contrast, our analysis of placebo experiments suggests that there may be a small negative bias due to artificial deflation. We conclude that Putin’s approval ratings largely reflect the attitudes of Russian citizens. © 2016 Taylor & Francis
This article analyses how the intensification of centralized monitoring within public organization may impact incentives for efficiency in those divisions of the organization that have different levels of financial autonomy. The efficiency of divisions’ activities was estimated through their procurement effectiveness. All the divisions were classified as non-commercial units (NCU) funded by the government or as income earning units (IEU) operating in the market and having broader financial autonomy. The results show that under standard monitoring, the IEU had more efficient procurements compared to the NCU. After intensification of centralized monitoring, the differences in performance became insignificant. These findings show that stricter monitoring is efficient for organizations with soft budget constraints, while for organizations with hard budget constraints it is preferable to use more flexible regulations.