Kettle, Meet Pot

“Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission” says a headline in the BBC. The Commissioner responsible for the report said that she believed the cost of corruption was “probably much higher” than the €120 billion (US$162 billion) the report estimates. And indeed that is probably correct because corruption within EU organs themselves was not included. […]

Preliminary Thoughts on TIMSS/PIRLS 2012

I had been meaning to post about this for a long time. Better late than never, I suppose. The TIMSS and PIRLS are international assessments of academic ability in math, science and literacy that are conducted once every four years. They are similar to the PISA tests, although the latter are less purely academically focused […]

Russia’s Economic “Stagnation” In Global Perspective: Continued

It is now a staple of “common wisdom” to such an extent that there is little point in digging up specific news items. Bound up in red tape and crushed by the weight of state regulations, the argument goes, the Russian economy is doomed to years of renewed Brezhnevite stagnation – with the government increasing […]

Translation: Demographics in Russia and Germany

In a graphs-heavy blog post, German-Russian blogger A.S. Schmidt argues that with its far higher emigration rates and lower birth rates, Germany is now in a much bigger demographic crisis than Russia. Demographics in Russia and Germany I have long wanted to compare some of the demographic trends in Russia and Germany but, to be honest, […]

Russians Produce 7 Cars For Every 10 They Buy

One common trope about the Russian economy is that it has virtually no manufacturing to speak of and lives off “oil rents” that can collapse any day. Whiles there is a small nugget of truth to this assertion, but by and large it is simply false. It is true that a great chunk of Russian […]

What I Learned From Freedom House…

My latest for the US-Russia Experts Panel and VoR. In this latest Panel, Vlad Sobell asks us supposed Russia “experts” whether Freedom House’s “alarmist stance” towards Russia is justified. Well, what do YOU think? I don’t think you need to be an expert to answer this; it’s an elementary issue of common sense and face […]

Russia’s Corruption In Comparative International Perspective

Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9 […]

Antisocial Punishment: Why China Will Defeat Corruption, But Russia And The Arabs Won’t

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Steven Pinker’s massive door-stopper The Better Angels of Our Nature. Incidentally, I found it a very interesting read with tons of cool factoids, although it could have done with a third of its text and a tiny fraction of its liberal sanctimonious. But that’s for the […]

If Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant, Why Is The Russian Mafia State Opening The Blinds?

My latest for the US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel. Also as usual it appears at Voice of Russia. The version printed here is a slightly longer one: There are already a lot of opinions on the topic of Russian corruption, and I see no pressing need to add more to that morass. I do however think it […]

My Article For Komsomolskaya Pravda On Press Freedoms In Russia And The West

Here it is in Russian: Вверх-вниз по рейтингу свободы. This translation here is of a longer version at my Russian language blog. A version of it also appears on Voice of Russia: Press freedom – on both sides of the Information Curtain. Thanks to Alexei Pankin (who is a regular at Komsomolskaya) for making it happen – and […]

Putin’s Birthday, Birth Of A Legacy

The latest US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel focused on an assessment of Putin’s historical legacy, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Here I try to answer whether history will see Putin as the “founder of a modern and successful Russia”, or as a tragic figure who threw away his chance of greatness to the “delusion of indispensability”: […]

Quantifying Future Time Orientation

In a 2010 paper on time preferences*, the authors Mei Wang et al. conducted an experiment in which participants could choose either $3400 now or $3800 a month later. Now I would choose the latter option but maybe it’s just because I’m intelligent and have been living in the West for quite a while. In […]

Russian Journalists Are Far Safer Than Mexican Journalists, Ordinary Russians, And Their Own Counterparts Under Yeltsin

One of the most common tropes against Russia is that critical (independent, democratic, etc) journalists there are dying like flies, presumably because of the “culture of impunity” created by Putin or even on his express orders. It is rarely mentioned that the statistical chances of a Russian journalist dying by homicide is an order of […]

Are Russians As Rich As Czechs?

In terms of new cars, they now are. According to 2011 statistics, Russians bought 17.6 new automobiles per 1000 people. This indicator is still quite a bit below most of Western Europe, such as Germany’s 38.5, France’s 33.4, Britain’s 31.9, Italy’s 30.1, and Spain’s 20.0. However, it has already overtaken most of East-Central Europe, whose […]

Measuring Churov’s Beard: The Mathematics Of Russian Election Fraud

In the aftermath of the 2011 Duma elections, the Russian blogosphere was abuzz with allegations of electoral fraud. Many of these were anecdotal or purely rhetorical in nature; some were more concrete, but variegated or ambiguous. A prime example of these were opinion polls and exit polls, which variably supported and contradicted the Kremlin’s claims that fraud was […]

Russia’s Economic “Stagnation” In Global Perspective

Иn the wake of the 2009 recession, declinist rhetoric has come to dominate discussion of Russia’s economic prospects. Jim O’Neill, the founder of the BRIC’s concept, has his work cut out defending Russia’s expulsion from the group in favor of Indonesia, Mexico, or some other random middle-sized country. Journalists in the Western media claim its economy is […]