Surveys on Corruption in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia



   A result of collaboration with two UI political scientists, Pr. Vicki Claypool and Pr. William Reisinger, this body of work addresses questions that arise from my ethnographic research. In 2014, we received a grant from the US Department of Defense to collect and analyze public and expert opinion data pertaining to political antecedents and effects of bureaucratic corruption in Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. This grant allowed us to develop a novel survey instrument featuring questions on citizens' engagement in bribery in different service-provision organizations as well as their political attitudes and behaviors. In the summer of 2015, we trained local interviewers and administered national representative surveys in each country (in Ukraine, N =1,540; in Russia, N=2,000; in Georgia, N =1,208). Additionally, we interviewed 60 governmental and non-governmental anti-corruption experts in each country.
   One paper, based on these data, has already been published in Post-Soviet Affairs. Several more papers are either under review or in the works.

Working Papers from the Project

Zaloznaya, M., Claypool, V., and W. Reisinger. "Pathways to Corruption: Institutional Equilibrium and Citizen Participation in Bureaucratic Corruption." Revise & Resubmit, Social Forces.

While bureaucratic corruption is one of the most widespread and consequential crimes in the non-Western world, to date, social scientists have not developed a comprehensive model predicting ordinary people's engagement in corrupt exchanges with street-level bureaucrats. Our article fills this gap by specifying an individual-level causal model of bureaucratic corruption centered around three theoretically-derived predictors: beliefs about acceptability of corruption, its perceived riskiness, and its utility to the offender. Moreover, we develop a series of hypotheses about the impact of institutional stability (clarity, predictability, and singularity of institutions) on rates and causal pathways to bureaucratic corruption in high-corruption societies. Using the data from 2015 nationally representative surveys in Russia (N=2000), and Ukraine (N=1540), we test a path-diagramed structural equation model that accounts for endogenetiy and the relationships among the theoretically -derived predictors of corruption. The tests of our model in institutionally-stable Russia and less stable Ukraine show that when institutions have greater stability, (1) citizens are less likely to partake in bureaucratic corruption, (2) the effects of theoretically-derived predictors on corrupt behavior are stronger, and (3) the beliefs about acceptability of corruption affect citizens' cost-and-benefit calculus regarding their own engagement to a lesser degree. Our findings explain the variation in corrupt behavior among citizens of high-corruption societies and testify to the importance of contextualizing theories of crime and tailoring the anti-corruption policies to specific institutional environments.

Claypool, V., Reisinger, W., Zaloznaya, M., Hu, Y., and J. Juehring. "Tsar Putin and the "Corruption" Thorn in his Side: The Demobilization of Votes in a Competitive Authoritarian Regime." Under review.

We argue that personal exposure to corrupt transactions with bureaucrats, many of whom are the only representatives of the state people encounter, places significant monetary and psychological burdens on the citizens who pay the bribes, and leads these citizens to conclude that politicians are corrupt and undeserving of electoral support. To provide empirical support for this thesis, we analyze 2,000 responses from face-to-face interviews conducted in Russia in June-July 2015. Using both behavioral and perceptual measures of corruption, we test for both the suppressive effect of corruption on the act of voting (turnout) as well as the negative effect of corruption on Putin's vote share via increased support of oppositional candidates. Most significant is our identification of two causal paths by which individual contact with corrupt officials undermines Putin's support. By the end of this article, we display, justify and test a model of "demobilized voting" in competitive authoritarian regimes.


Zaloznaya, M., Reisinger W., and V. Claypool. "Local Politics of Anti-Corruptionism: Cases of Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine," In preparation
Reisinger, W., Zaloznaya, M., and V. Claypool. "Principles or Pocketbook: How Corruption Affects Regime Support in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia," In preparation
Zaloznaya, M., Reisinger W., and V. Claypool. "When do Citizens Become Criminals? Accounting for Organizational Variation in Petty Corruption in Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia," In preparation

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