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Working paper

Collusion and Corruption: an Experimental Study of Russian Police

Corruption, i.e. regular abuse of public office for private gains, draws substantial attention of researchers in many disciplines. Our paper adds to the experimental literature on corruption a novel experiment on corruption-at-the-top among the real Russian police officers of senior middle rank as experimental subjects (apparently the first study of that kind), which is contrasted to that of ordinary citizens (students in economics). Our experimental design explicitly takes account of the peculiarities of the Russian case during police reform, as well as social and institutional constraints facing anticorruption policies. We fi nd that taking bribes, and especially defending against possible checks of corruption, is quite common to Russian police officers, yet even more typical is their readiness to contribute towards the decrease of the likelihood of this anti-corruption check, even if this contribution leads to private losses. Another typical feature is increased volatility of the frequency and scale of bribery among the police offi cers (as contrasted to ordinary citizens) when measures aimed at fighting corruption are introduced. We discuss robustness of these findings, as well as their implications for anti-corruption policy.