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Experience versus perception of corruption : Russia as a test case

Rose, Richard and Mishler, William (2010) Experience versus perception of corruption : Russia as a test case. Global Crime, 11 (2). pp. 145-163.

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Corruption is important because it undermines bureaucratic predictability and is a potential threat to support for a political regime. The perception of corruption is the most commonly used measure of the actual incidence of corruption. This article marshals the New Russia Barometer survey data to challenge this assumption. Even though most Russians perceive a variety of everyday public services as corrupt, this assessment is not based on first-hand experience. Only a minority pays bribes. We test four hypotheses about differences in individual perception and experience of paying bribes: the ability to pay, contact with public services, normative acceptability and political awareness. Contact is most important for paying bribes whereas political awareness is most important for the perception of corruption. We also test how much the perception and experience of corruption, as against other forms of political and economic performance, affect support for the regime. Support is driven by the substantive performance of government, especially its management of the economy, rather than by the perception or experience of corruption.