Extralegal Payments to State Officials in Russia, 1750s–1830s: Assessing the Burden of Corruption

26 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019

See all articles by Elena Korchmina

Elena Korchmina

HSE Moscow; Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Igor Fedyukin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: February 2019

Abstract

This article uses the records of expenditures from a set of estates that belonged to the Golitsyn family to assess the level of ‘routine corruption’ in Imperial Russia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The data from these books allow us to identify individual cases of unofficial facilitation payments made by the estates and by peasant communes to district‐level officials; to delimit key types of payment situations; and to calculate the sums expended for payments by a given estate in a given year. The resulting numbers are compared to the overall volume of obligations borne by the serfs to the state and to their landlords. Our conclusion is that while the facilitation payments were ubiquitous and accompanied any interaction with the state, the volume of these ‘routine’ payments (as opposed to other forms of extraction) was quite low and they did not put a significant burden on the peasants, while at the same time securing hefty extra incomes for top district officials. Rather, by the last decades of the eighteenth century Russian Imperial officials at the district level might have switched from a tribute‐like extortion from the population at large to acquiring vast sums by collecting unofficial payments in more targeted ways.

Suggested Citation

Korchmina, Elena and Fedyukin, Igor, Extralegal Payments to State Officials in Russia, 1750s–1830s: Assessing the Burden of Corruption (February 2019). The Economic History Review, Vol. 72, Issue 1, pp. 156-181, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317729 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12666

Elena Korchmina (Contact Author)

HSE Moscow ( email )

26 Shabolovka
Moscow
Russia

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) ( email )

Vernadskogo Prospect 82
Moscow, 119571
Russia

Igor Fedyukin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

136, Rodionova street
25/12, Bolshaya pecherskaya street
Nizhniy Novgorod, 603155
Russia

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