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Motivations for Public Service in Corrupt States: Evidence from Post-Soviet Russia

Jordan Gans-Morse, Alexander Kalgin, Andrei Klimenko and Andrei Yakovlev

No WP BRP 13/PSP/2017, HSE Working papers from National Research University Higher School of Economics

Abstract: Throughout much of the world, corruption in the civil service undermines state capacity, impedes economic development, and saps citizens’ morale. But while its pernicious effects are widely recognized, the roots of corruption remain poorly understood. Whereas most studies on corruption’s origins focus on the incentives bureaucrats face once in office, this study contributes to a line of recently emerging research that considers the role of self-selection of citizens with a propensity for corruption into bureaucracies where corruption is known to be widespread. Drawing on a survey and experimental games conducted with students at an elite university in Moscow, Russia, we compare the attitudinal, behavioral, and demographic traits of students seeking public sector employment to the traits of their peers seeking jobs in the private sector. Contrary to studies conducted in other high-corruption contexts, such as India, we find surprising evidence that students who prefer a public sector career display lss willingness to cheat or bribe in experimental games as well as higher levels of altruism. One interpretation of these findings is that corruption in Russia results from the transformation of bureaucrats’ behavior and attitudes after entering the civil service, rather than through a process of corrupt self-selection

Keywords: corruption; Russia; motivation; civil service; experimental games. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D73 H83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 40 pages
Date: 2017
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cis, nep-exp, nep-law and nep-tra
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Published in WP BRP Series: Public and Social Policy / PSP, November 2017, pages 1-40

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