A new paper by Michael Rochlitz, Olga Masyutina, Koen Schoors and Yulia Khalikova “Authoritarian Durability, Prospects of Change and Individual Behavior: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Russia” is out as a SSRN working paper.
Abstract: How does the prospect of an autocrat remaining in office affect individual expectations and behavior? To answer this question, we implemented a survey experiment in May 2021 in Russia by treating respondents with three hypothetical outcomes of the 2024 Russian presidential elections -- Vladimir Putin remaining in office, his close associate Sergei Shoigu winning the elections, or a young reformer becoming president. Respondents then had to answer a range of questions on individual expectations and intended behavior. We find that respondents agree on economic stagnation being a concern under Putin, but not under the two political alternatives. For most other questions, we find a strong division along political lines, as well as -- less systematically -- with respect to income, age and education. Most importantly, we find that pro-regime respondents were more likely to invest and be economically active under Putin, despite concerns about economic stagnation. Our results show the importance of regime legitimacy for individual incentives, and provide an explanation why unpopular authoritarian regimes might be less economically successful.