Self-Selection into Public Service When Corruption is Widespread: The Anomalous Russian Case

Jordan Gans-Morse*, Alexander Kalgin, Andrei Klimenko, Dmitriy Vorobyev, Andrei Yakovlev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Drawing on experimental games and surveys conducted with students at two universities in Russia, we compare the behavioral, attitudinal, and demographic traits of students seeking public sector employment to the traits of their peers seeking jobs in the private sector. Contrary to similar studies conducted in other high-corruption contexts, such as India, we find evidence that students who prefer a public sector career display less willingness to cheat or bribe in experimental games as well as higher levels of altruism. However, disaggregating public sector career paths reveals distinctions between the federal civil service and other types of public sector employment, with federal government positions attracting students who exhibit some similarities with their peers aspiring to private sector careers. We discuss multiple interpretations consistent with our findings, each of which has implications for the creation of effective anti-corruption policies and for understanding of state capacity in contexts where corruption is widespread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalComparative Political Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Russia
  • bureaucracies
  • corruption and patronage
  • political economy
  • public administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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