How and when are governments able to encourage firms and schools to work together to develop workers’ skills? Upgrading the quality of human capital in the workforce is widely seen as a key challenge faced by countries looking to escape the “middle income trap.” Growing attention has been paid to public-private partnerships (PPP) between individual firms and schools as a powerful tool for meeting this challenge, but key facilitators of PPP thought crucial in existing studies – strong, independent employers’ associations and labor unions – are often missing in such settings. To explore the emergence of PPP in skill development in the developing world, we draw on recent reform experiences in Russia’s regions that have led to a surge in complex, costly forms of PPP despite weakly developed business associations and unions. We argue that variation in the administrative capacity of regional governments and their political accountability explains this surge. Strong administrative capacity reassures all parties that regional authorities can monitor their counterparties’ compliance with agreements, while political accountability creates incentives for authorities to do so. We test our argument using original data on the existence and content of firm-school partnerships across all Russia’s regions for 2013.
We empirically study how social capital influences individuals' preferences for redistribution to target groups using unique surveys of approximately 34,000 individuals across 68 Russian regions in 2007 and 2011. There is a positive relationship between social capital and support for government redistribution based on objective verifiable criteria. We interpret the results in terms of the perceived likelihood of cheating. Benefits to the ‘needy’ are at greater risk of being diverted to nondeserving claimants compared to benefits for which there are objective criteria, such as merit, being retired or disabled, or having many children. Our results show that when there is higher social capital in a region, there is also less tolerance for the possibility of cheating by recipients of government income transfers.
A broad literature suggests that political regimes matter for the growth effect of natural resources. However, while several studies have concentrated on the difference between democracies and autocracies in this respect, an important topic overlooked so far is the differences between varieties of authoritarian regimes. This study uses the political variation across sub-national regions of the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin to understand how differences in the extent of elite fragmentation in autocracies affects the influence of resource abundance on economic growth in the short run. We find that polities with fragmented elites underperform those with consolidated elites and link this effect to higher costs of fights over rents due to higher political uncertainty.