Lustration Matters: a Radical Approach to the Problem of Corruption
Do radical anticorruption measures such as lustration reduce corruption by systematically limiting the political participation of former authoritarian actors? While research has largely overlooked the role of transitional justice in addressing corruption, some scholars claim that lustration may increase corruption by reducing bureaucratic expertise. Analyzing original panel data from 30 post-communist states from 1996 to 2011, we find that lustration is effective in lowering corruption. Lustration disrupts the political, economic, and administrative malpractice of the preceding regimes by limiting opportunities for corruption of former communist elites. To illuminate the causal mechanism, we examine the cases of Estonia, which has adopted lustration and lowered corruption; Georgia, which has reduced corruption since first considering lustration; and Russia, which has not adopted lustration and maintains high levels of corruption. This study breaks new ground with a novel system-level explanation and an integrative approach to causation for the entire post-communist world.