Putin's crackdown on mortality: Rethinking legal nihilism and state capacity in light of Russia's surprising public health campaigns

Henry St George Brooke*, Jordan Gans-Morse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Facing a demographic crisis, the Russian government recently introduced public health measures to reduce alcohol consumption, traffic fatalities, and tobacco use. The relative success of these measures challenges common assumptions about Russia's culture of "legal nihilism" and lack of state capacity. Drawing on two original surveys of smokers at Russian universities, we provide evidence that low legal compliance results from expectations about low enforcement, not from a unique legal culture. To account for unexpectedly stringent enforcement of public health laws, we offer a theory of selective state capacity. In contemporary Russia, the top leadership's personal endorsements of policy initiatives make clear to lower-level officials which rules must be enforced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalProblems of Post-Communism
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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