Statistical Footprints of Corruption: ‘Vanity Fair’ of Automobile License Plates in Russia

34 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2022

See all articles by Tom Eeckhout

Tom Eeckhout

Ghent University

Timur Natkhov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Leonid Polishchuk

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Koen J. L. Schoors

Ghent University - Centre for Russian International Socio-Political and Economic Studies (CERISE); Ghent University - Department of General Economics

Kevin Hoefman

Ghent University

Date Written: November 29, 2021

Abstract

We offer a novel big data approach to corruption detection and measurement by using statistical anomalies in publicly observable allocations which corruption affects in a predictable manner. While each individual incidence of corruption remains undetectable under the veil of secrecy, systemic corruption changes distributions of observable outcomes, and thus leaves measurable statistical footprints. We apply this approach to measuring corruption in Russian traffic police, which issues auto- mobile license plates. Some of such plates serve as signs of status and prestige, and they are heavily concentrated among more expensive and especially luxury classes and brands, whereas if the official rules were followed, the distributions should have been close to uniform. Such discrepancies provide evidence-based measures of corruption in traffic police, which exhibit significant correlation with road accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Keywords: Corruption, Police, Law Enforcement, Administrative data, Forensic Economics

JEL Classification: K13, K42, O17, P37

Suggested Citation

Eeckhout, Tom and Natkhov, Timur and Polishchuk, Leonid and Schoors, Koen J. L. and Hoefman, Kevin, Statistical Footprints of Corruption: ‘Vanity Fair’ of Automobile License Plates in Russia (November 29, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3973625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3973625

Tom Eeckhout (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

Hoveniersberg 24
Ghent, 9000
Belgium

Timur Natkhov

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Leonid Polishchuk

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Koen J. L. Schoors

Ghent University - Centre for Russian International Socio-Political and Economic Studies (CERISE) ( email )

Tweekerkenstraat 2
Ghent, 9000
Belgium
+32 9 264 34 78 (Phone)
+32 9 265 35 99 (Fax)

Ghent University - Department of General Economics ( email )

Tweekerkenstraat 2
Ghent, 9000
Belgium
+32 9 264 34 78 (Phone)
+32 9 264 35 99 (Fax)

Kevin Hoefman

Ghent University

Coupure Links 653
Gent, 9000
Belgium

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