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Empirical methods in comparative institutional analysis

Priority areas of development: economics
Department: Center for Institutional Studies

The aim of this study is to analyze the influence of economic, institutional, non-cognitive, and psychological factors on the behavior of economic agents. We study the behavior of economic agents in educational market, banking sphere, and in the field of public procurements. 

Empirical data

In this study, we use data based on public opinion polls, based on administrative information on institutional characteristics, and based on questionnaire surveys organized by researchers themselves.  The list of all used databases is the following:

  • RLMS data (Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of Higher School of Economics);
  • PIAАC data (International Assessment of Adult Competencies);
  • World Bank data;
  • EBRD data (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development);
  • Data of informational and analytic system “Banks and Finances” (Mobile);
  • Data about financial reports of Russian banks;
  • Data about public procurements (gathered by the researchers and based on the website of public procurements, FIRA database, and regional statistics of ROSSTAT);
  • Data about student social networks and academic achievements (gathered by the researchers and based on the questionnaire survey).


Results of this study describe behavior and achievements of economic agents in educational, banking, and public procurement spheres.

In educational market, we show that student psychological traits and social networks explain their achievements during studies as well as after graduation. Aspirations about higher future salaries increase the chances of choosing higher education. On the job market, individual professional choices and salaries might be explained by individual psychophysiological characteristics. After comparative analysis of professional competencies in different areas, we conclude that Russian professionals show lower level of literacy in comparison with professionals in other countries.

In banking sphere, we demonstrate that the high level of social capital in developed countries explain the choice of bank loans rather that informal loans. By contrast, the density of social ties in Russia defines the financial relations with close social environment such as friends and relatives. Additionally, we develop a detailed classification of bank loans based on their field using data about financial reports of Russian banks in 2002-2013. We reveal some dependencies between the choice of their field and its influence on bank performance. Clusterization of banks based on their business models shows that different models in average provide the same bank profits but reveals differences in price and security policy. Using data about 180 countries in 1998, 2001, 2005, and 2010 we demonstrate that countries with higher level of banking transparency have lower level of its concentration. We conclude that additional demands for banking information disclosure do not lead to increased competition between them.

In the field of public procurements, we show that online and oral auctions create different stimuli for corruption behavior. It was estimated that the corruption of the platform affects the favoritism of a customer if a preferred supplier has high expenses and can not perform the contract with constraining conditions. At the same time, if a preferred supplier has low expenses, the corruption of the platform increases the amount of bribery to the customer in comparison with the traditional auction that has restrictions for the of amount of bribery at the platform. Also, we reveal that during the public procurement of oil a customer has a range of possibilities to restrict the competition in online auctions and price quotations. These restrictions lead to the loss of efficiency of public procurement system.

Based on the research findings, 18 publications were prepared, of which 3 papers and 6 working papers in English. The results also were presented at 28 conferences and workshops. Researchers implement the results of this study in the courses they read for students at BA and MA levels (Institutional Economics, Economics of Education, Research Seminars).

Recommendations for the implementation of study results

Results in the sphere of education allow researchers to make recommendations about the improvement of student knowledge acquisition. We show that student group division according to their network preferences and abilities as well as additional financial stimulation of students lead to the increase of their academic achievements. Results indicate that with accompanying measures students might successfully enter job market and government might have lower expenditures connected with the funding of tuition-free places at the universities. Recommendations at the banking sphere are aimed at the improvement of banking efficiency. We show that the choice of particular banking sphere explain the efficiency and profitability of banks whereas the choice of business model does not explain its revenues. Additionally, we suggest to pay more attention to the price and security policy of banks that depends on the chosen business model. Our recommendations based on the analysis of public procurements concern the efficiency of online and oral procurement systems. We show that online system produces possibilities for the competition restriction as well as for corrupt transactions. We recommend to focus on additional forms of control and regulation of public procurements.


Polyachenko S. S., Nye John, Bruhanov M. Эффект пренатального тестостерона на результаты жизнедеятельности человека / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC".. "NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC"". 2014. 
Бальсевич А. А., Подколзина Е. А. Причины и последствия низкой конкуренции в госзакупках в России // Экономический журнал Высшей школы экономики. 2014. № 4. 
Валеева Д. Р., Польдин О. В., Юдкевич М. М. Социальные связи студента и выбор специализации // Прикладная эконометрика. 2014. № 34(2). C. 80-94. 
Островная М. В., Подколзина Е. А. Электронные аукционы и фаворитизм в российских государственных закупках // Экономический журнал Высшей школы экономики. 2014. Т. 18. № 4. C. 586-619. 
Польдин О. В., Юдкевич М. М., Андрущак Г. В., Валеева Д. Р. Как социальные связи студентов обеспечивают эффекты сообучения, in: XIV Апрельская международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества: в 4-х книгах. Книга 4. Москва : Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2014. С. 575-585. 
Orel E., Nye J. V. The influence of prenatal hormones on occupational choice: 2D:4D evidence from Moscow // Personality and Individual Differences. 2015. No. 78. P. 39-42. doi
Креховец Е. В., Польдин О. В. Дружеские сети студентов: факторы формирования и основные характеристики / Высшая школа экономики. Series WP10 "Научные доклады Института институциональных исследований". 2014. No. 1. 
Kochergina E. V., Nye J. V., Yudkevich M. M., Orel E. The Effects Of Prenatal Testosterone On Adult Wages: Evidence From Russian Rlms Data And Measured 2d:4d Digit Ratios / Высшая школа экономики. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2014. No. 71. 
Balsevich A. A., Podkolzina E. Indicators Of Corruption In Public Procurement: The Example Of Russian Regions / Высшая школа экономики. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2014. No. WP BRP 76/EC/2014. 
Poldin O. V., Valeeva D., Yudkevich M. M. Friendship And Study Assistance Ties Of University Students / Высшая школа экономики. Series SOC "Sociology". 2014. No. WP BRP 37/SOC/2014. 
Polyachenko S. S., Nye J. V., Bruhanov M. 2D:4D and Life Outcomes: Evidence from the Russian RLMS Survey / Высшая школа экономики. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2014. No. WP BRP 78/EC/2014.