Scientific Report "Calculating Corruption: Political Competition and Bribery under Authoritarianism"
HSE International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development (ICSID) and NES Center for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions held another session of their Research Seminar on Diversity and Development on February 28th, 2017. The event was held jointly with the seminar “Political Economy”.
Noah Buckley-Farlee, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the HSE International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development, presented his paper "Calculating Corruption: Political Competition and Bribery under Authoritarianism".
Abstract: Why do some authoritarian regimes exhibit high levels of corruption, while others produce very little? In this study, I show how corruption is used as a signal of performance and loyalty in autocratic regimes. I find that elites in 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 contemporary Russia. This data set is comprised of over 180,000 responses to public opinion surveys from 2002-2016 in Russia's subnational units. Identification of the causal effect of political competition on corruption is achieved with the use of an exogenously-determined electoral calendar--I show how the scheduled end of a term in office is an exogenous positive shock to political competition for authoritarian leaders in Russian regions, a shock that decreases experienced bribery by over 13% in those years. A wide array of alternative measures including novel search engine data and crime statistics support my conclusions. These findings have implications for our understanding of autocratic politics, corruption, and studies of Russia.