Public Opinion on Analog and Digital Services in Russia's Regions
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Description: What role do public services play in contemporary Russian society? Public services are generally viewed as an important tool in addressing socially pressing issues, such as reducing poverty, encouraging investment, improving quality of life, and addressing inequities. Yet social science research has repeatedly demonstrated that public services are also an effective tool for generating political support across countries of all income levels and regime types. Consequently, policymakers face conflicting incentives in designing policies. The studies in this project argue that a crucial part of understanding policy design is a better understanding of the demands and expectations that the mass public has for services, which shape the political incentives policymakers respond to. Despite extensive work on demand for public service provision in Western Democratic settings, however, less is understood about demand for services, expectations about their quality, and their link to political support in non-democratic settings. There is also relatively little work exploring how moves to provide services digitally shape these factors, despite widespread adoption of digital government during the COVID era. This project sheds light on these questions and more by exploring public opinion related to public service provision in a middle income, electoral autocracy: Russia. We do so using a novel, regionally representative survey of over 16,250 respondents across 60 Russian regions, which takes advantage of Russia’s substantial sub-national variation in political competition, economic structure, service provision outcomes, and socio-economic characteristics.