Tatiana Karabchuk, Deputy Head of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR) at HSE St Petersburg and Senior Research Fellow of the Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology (LSES) came to this conclusion in her report. In other words, Karabchuk tried to establish whether low wages (and dissatisfaction with them) make policemen more prepared to take bribes and ready to condone informal kinds of payment.
Karabchuk presented her research at a seminar on the ‘Sociology of the markets’ at LSES where she explained that it was important to ‘follow the allocation of wages among policemen and to discover how much they were getting, and then to show how the size of their official salary influenced their approval of informal payments’. The work was based on several theoretical approaches to evaluate factors of paying wages: the theory of human capital, theory of compensatory variations and theory of salary effectiveness. The public sector allows that a policeman’s wage is made up of a basic salary according to his position and rank, and further payments for his years of service, academic achievements and bonuses.
Part of the research in 2011-2012 was a survey of 450-500 policemen in each of the four countries. The author gave a short description of the selected countries where they found few women in the police force, a 9-13 hour working day, generally higher educational qualifications among police, and a low percentage of policemen working in capital cities. The average length of service was 7-13 years. The largest number of well-educated policemen was found in Kazakhstan – 84.7% and the highest ratio of women police, in Latvia at 39.1%.
The police were asked a number of questions about their salaries. In particular, how much was in their actual salary and how much money they were handed each month (including bonuses, increases and extra payments) in 2011. Karabchuk tried to clarify how much they thought a person should be paid and how they viewed extra earnings received by people in their department. The policemen were also asked to say how acceptable bribe-taking is for the majority of their work-mates, and what they would think if a colleague reported corruption in their department to the security services.
The answers showed that the least inclined to bribe-taking were the Bulgarians. 94.4% declared that they don’t think bribery is acceptable, 93.8% said that they would assist any exposure of bribe-taking and that they didn’t see anything wrong with denouncing it, even if their close colleagues were involved. The majority of Russian policemen showed a readiness to accept extra informal payments. Only 25% of Russian policemen said that extra earnings and informal payments were frowned upon in their departments.
However, it turns out that police wages in Russia are relatively higher than in Latvia and Kazakhstan but lower than in Bulgaria.
Tatiana Karabchuk concluded that the lower a policeman’s salary is, the more he is open to corruption. But this is only true in Russia and not characteristic of other countries.
A miserable family income, undoubtedly increases the likelihood of a policeman taking a bribe. But at the same time, policemen on higher salaries are less often suspected by their colleagues of extortion, ‘informal economic activity’.
But this is only the beginning of the research says Tatiana Karabchuk, after all we now know that salary size is not the only thing that determines tendencies toward bribery among policemen. The next stage in the research is to look into the reasons for bribery among police in different countries. Will it be values, culture, or social norms?