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Working paper

Cooperating with the State: Evidence from Survey Experiments on Policing in Mosscow

Noah Buckley, Frye T., Gehlbach S. G., MacCarthy L.
What factors affect citizens’ willingness to cooperate with the state? We explore this question through a study of citizens’ willingness to report crimes to the police, one of the quintessential forms of cooperation with the state apparatus. We develop a “calculus of cooperation” that high-lights three sets of factors that potentially influence citizens’ incentives to report a crime: benefits of cooperation received only if the crime is solved, benefits of cooperation received regardless of whether the crime is solved, and costs of cooperation. We evaluate the importance of these consid-erations using data from a set of survey experiments conducted in Moscow, Russia in December 2011. We find that citizens’ willingness to cooperate with the police is influenced by the nature and perpetrator of the crime but not by material rewards, appeals to civic duty, or the time required to report a crime. These results suggest skepticism about the ability of governments to easily engineer cooperation with the state.