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The Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR) focuses on the analysis of norms and values, explanation of the dynamics of value changes that took place in Russia and other former Soviet countries in the last 30 years, correlation of these dynamics with political and economic changes in the global context, identification of distinctive characteristics of Russian society in comparison with more than 90 countries, interregional comparative research within Russia, and the clarification of correlation between cultural and historical characteristics and economic development of the regions.

The strategic goals of the Laboratory are the following:

  • Subjective Well-being and Health,
  • Tolerance: Nationalism, Migration, Religion.

The Laboratory invites the participation of young researchers, postgraduate students, and MA and BA students in the social sciences. We hold  regular competitions concerning preparation of publications in peer-reviewed journals. Also, we conduct open methodological seminars on an ongoing basis. There are about 50 research projects supported by the Laboratory to be published in international academic journals. Professor Ronald Inglehart and other key members of the Laboratory supervise these projects.

Table of contents:

  • Collective research projects conducted by staff of the Laboratory;
  • Individual research projects under the supervision of Professor R. Inglehart (projects of the international research network members LCSR).

Collective LCSR's Research Projects:

1.  Ongoing projects

Genetic Factors and Preferences for Redistribution and Collective Behavior (2012-2014)

Participants: Alexey Zakharov, Eduard Ponarin

A number of recent studies have shown that certain aspects of political behavior have a genetic component. In this study we investigate the effects of three specific genes on the individual preferences toward the redistribution of income. We use a sample of over 2000 individuals, collected across six Russian regions. A measure of redistribution preferences was constructed based on six questions. For each individual we also gather data on the polymorphisms of three genes MAOA, 5HTT, and COMT. We find that the 5HTT gene has a small but significant effect on the individual's preference toward redistribution. It is shown the individuals with one or two copies of the L polymorphism prefer significantly more redistribution than those who have two copies of the S polymorphism. Our study includes controls for age, education, income, and urban/rural residence. Of these control variables, only income and age are significant (preference toward redistribution decreases with income and increases with age). We also include population fixed effects to control for genetic drift. The study is the first ever to identify specific genes that affect individual redistribution preferences.

Gender Attitudes and Perception of Democracy in the Arab World (2012-2013)

Supervisor: Eduard Ponarin

Participants: Veronika Kostenko, Pavel Kuzmichev

Democracy and human rights are very popular topics in Islamic studies as all the countries of the Arab world do not enjoy electoral democracy while there is a very high demand on it in these societies. This phenomenon can be explained by specific understanding of democracy among local population. We try to analyze whether democracy support in the Arab world correlates with human rights issues, and gender equality in particular. In the most countries democracy support and gender equality indices show high correlation. We use cluster analysis and Poisson regression modeling to show that correlation between perception of democracy and gender equality support is very low and varies across the countries. There is a group of people in the region who support both democracy and gender equality, but it is a small number (less than 10%) of elderly and middle-aged people characterized by higher education and social status. Simultaneously, the majority, especially young males aged 25-35 are against gender equality and democracy. This fact is of special importance as this generation will govern these countries in the closest future.

Read more…

Sexual Liberalization in Central Asia: a Marker of Modernization or a Choice of the Poorest? (2013-2014)

Supervisor: Eduard Ponarin

Participants: Veronika Kostenko, Sofia Lopatina, Ekaterina Turanova

This project is conducted using WVS data from the 6th wave which was collected for the first time in three Central Asian countries: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Research is focused on gender issues and examination of the process of sexual liberalization in Central Asia, which is quite unexplored. While we can claim that in the majority of developed countries in Europe people who support more liberal values in sexual sphere are mostly young men and women with high educational level, relatively high income, belonging to the middle and upper social classes. People who live in more insecure conditions are expected to support traditional values, to be more religious, to be committed to communal ties and obligations; patriarchal norms, discouraging divorce, abortion, sex before marriage, lay in the basement of such societies and they are considered to be “a key to survival” (Inglehart, Norris, 2003). When the process of modernization starts, living conditions become more comfortable for people who are not concerned with danger of having no food or no money; education becomes more widespread and available. It results in a drastic value change from survival values (common for traditional societies) to self-expression values, including social tolerance and aspiration to liberty (Inglehart, Welzel, 2005). According to these theoretical constructs we can argue that in countries that are going through modernization process, people who have a stable financial situation, those who are socially, economically and physically protected, would be more tolerant to liberal values and ideas, including sexual liberalization. But in Central Asia we discovered different situation. Preliminary analysis shows, that sexual liberalization in this region is supported by those who are less protected in social and economic sphere. We found out that people who live in insecure environment (lack medical treatment, feel unsafe from crime), those who are not satisfied with their lives and those who are economically insecure (have no money or no food) are more tolerant towards such issues as divorce, sex before marriage, prostitution and abortion.

Exogenous shock, genetic diversity and social change: The Case of Alcohol and European Colonization (2012-2013)

Participants: Andrey Shcherbak, Svetlana Borinskaya

The research project aims to find link between genetic diversity and social change. The proposed mechanism is an exogenous shock. We argue that exogenous shock may increase the significance of genotype differences among populations and genetic diversity may become an important factor of social and political change. Although some studies associate certain genes with prosocial behavior, it is hardly to say that any genetic polymorphisms are responsible for social change. Under conditions of exogenous shock some genes may have impact on social change. In other words, if populations’ genotypes are not ‘prepared’ to new external threats, social change is likely – either as social adaptation to these challenges, or as failure to do that.

Our case study for testing the hypothesis about exogenous shock as a catalyst of genes–social change process is the use of strong alcohol as factor of European colonization in America, Africa and Eurasia. Historically, alcohol was one of the major trade items between Europeans and indigenous populations. We argue that there is a positive correlation between probability of being colonized by Europeans and allele frequencies responsible for metabolism of alcohol. The risk of colonization by European powers is higher for indigenous populations which had genotype with lower allele frequencies which could ’protect’ them against alcohol abuse. Dependent variable is binomial variable which codes colonization of a given native population by Europeans since the 16th century to the year 1900. The unit of analysis is not state but population. Independent variables are allele frequencies of ADH1B*Arg48Hys and ALDH2-2 polymorphisms among selected populations. Control variables are type of state history, population size, economy type (hunting-gathering/agriculture/ nomads), and pathogen history. Our preliminary results show that higher allele frequency is associated with less alcohol consumption. We also discuss Economic dependency hypothesis as one of potential causal links between alcohol consumption/alcohol abuse and colonization. In conclusion, we provide some evidence that existing differences in Arg48Hys might have happened due to ancient urbanization, change in population density and as a result historic pathogen prevalence.

Sociocultural and Institutional Aspects of Social Modernization of the Siberian Regions (2013-2014)

Supervisor: Anna Nemirovskaya

Participants: Vladimir Kozlov, Ekaterina Lytkina, Julia Savinkova

This comparative research project is devoted to an analysis of the socio-cultural and institutional aspects of modern social modernization of the regions of Western and Eastern Siberia, compared with other regions and Russia as the whole. The project involves the study of socio-cultural environment of these areas, social structure and social institutions, in order to identify the specific characteristics of modern social modernization of Siberia, as well as evaluate existing opportunities and barriers to the development of these “resource” regions, that are crucial for Russia`s stable development, from the economic and geopolitical point of view. The main empirical basis for this comparative study of social and cultural characteristics of the Siberian regions is the survey in 7 regions of the Siberian Federal District and all-Russia, performed by a single method developed by the Center for the Study of Socio-cultural Changes of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the data by Russian Federal Service of State Statistics and other research organizations. The goal of this presentation is to demonstrate the level of modernization of Siberia, compared with other regions of Russia and the country as a whole, introduce the main objectives, methodology, and some empirical results of this project.

Read more…

Social Welfare and Health of Unconventionally Employed (2011-2012)

Supervisor: Tatiana Karabchuk

Participants: Marina NikitinaNatalia Soboleva

For the last ten years the scale of non-standard employment has tended to increase: and not only in Russia, but in many other countries. At the same time this phenomenon is comparatively new in post-Soviet countries and requires scrutiny. In particular, non-standard employment is connected with social exclusion, instability, low wages, and job dissatisfaction. In this connection, the authors suggest that there is a relationship between the type of employment and the subjective evaluation of health and social well-being, not only in Russia but in the world as a whole. The main objectives of the research project are to determine the impact of types of employment on life satisfaction and social well-being and to compare the results between countries in this regard.

Read more…

Nationalism in Russian Society: An Experimental Study(2011-2013)

Participants: Alexey ZakharovNadezhda Shilova

This research project  is designed as a laboratory experiment which aims to identify the importance of a group’s characteristics in the distribution of responsibility. The participants of the experiment are offered to take part in a game called "collective dictator". According to the rules of the game, there are two groups of people: first, a group of "dictators" who collectively decide how to divide a fixed sum of money among the two groups; then the representatives of the second group have an opportunity to punish each of the first group members. The question stated by the experimenters is the following: According to which principle will the punishment be distributed? Will this principle be rational (dictators with more authority will be punished more) or national (the dictator with a "non-Russian" name will be punished more severely)?

Read more…

Nationalism in Russian Regions: A Comparative and Historical Perspectives (2011-2013)

Supervisor: Andrey Shcherbak

ParticipantsAlexandra ShishovaIrina Vartanova 

The expenditures of Russian republics on education, culture, support of a national language are analyzed in the project. One of the project's aims is calculation of an index of structural potential for nationalism in Russian republics.

Read more…

Elite-2020 (2012-2013)

SupervisorsRonald InglehartEduard PonarinWilliam Zimmerman

Participants: Yegor LazarevBoris SokolovEkaterina TuranovaIrina Vartanova

Social structure and social institutions of the central and frontier zones of the Russian Federation: quality of life and potential for modernization (2013-2014)

ParticipantsAnna NemirovskayaRoberto FoaTatiana KarabchukVladimir KozlovJulia Savinkova

Wages and informal payments in police: comparative study of Russia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Latvia (2013-2014)

Supervisor: Tatiana Karabchuk

Participant: Ruslan Almukhametov

The project deals with the problem of police wage setting in comparative perspective. Based on unique data set, collected in four post-soviet countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Latvia) the research provides the comparative study focusing on the wage differentials in police and the probability for informal earnings. The survey had unique questionnaire for all four countries and the sample size for each country comprises of about 500 policemen. The respondents were asked to answer about 50 questions about their current position, wage, attitude toward bribes and extra income, consumption behavior, social guarantees and some other. The authors disclose the determinants of wage differentials inside the police, identifying as independent variables such as tenure, department, rank-position and place of living. The paper shows that the positive links between the wage size and attitudes towards informal payments take place only in Russia, but not in all other four countries. The same is true for the difference between the real and ideal wage stated by policemen.

2. Collective projects (completed)

Modernization and Well-Being in Russia   (2010-2012)

Supervisor: Ronald Inglehart 

Participants: Eduard PonarinRoberto Foa

Subjective well-being in Russia was already low in 1982. Economic development is strongly linked with subjective well-being- the people of rich countries tend to be happier than the people of poor countries. But empirical evidence indicates that as early as 1982, the Russia people already ranked lower on happiness and life satisfaction than the people of much poorer countries such as Nigeria or India. Already in 1982, the Russian people were suffering from a malaise linked with the era of stagnation; external signs of this malaise, such as rising alcoholism and declining male life expectancy, were evident. But in subsequent years, with the collapse of the Soviet Union-- and the collapse of the communist belief system-- subjective well-being in Russia fell to levels never seen before. Thus, by 1990, Russia (with a few other countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania) showed the world's lowest levels of subjective well-being-- in fact, the lowest levels ever recorded. This was linked with falling birth rates and life expectancy, which continued until 1995. In recent years, the trend toward falling subjective well-being has begun to reverse itself, so that by the time of 2006 and 2011 waves of WVS, it had moved back toward the level of 1982, but still ranked low in global perspective.

This project will provide an answer as to whether this recovery has continued and to monitor related changes in the social, economic, political and religious orientations of the Russian people. The surveys taken in LCSR are carried out in connection with the 2010-2011 wave of the World Values Surveys, which has surveyed representative national samples of the publics of countries containing 90 percent of the world’s population, in successive waves of surveys conducted since 1981. This makes it possible to analyze the data collected by this project in context with comparable data from countries around the world, and to measure changes observed from 1981 to the present.

Islam and Nationalism in Volga-Ural Region (2011-2012)

ParticipantsEduard PonarinKirill Zhirkov

The correlation between Islam and nationalism is empirically analyzed in the cases of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, and a hypothesis about the existence of two forms of nationalism (ethnic and political) is empirically tested via analysis of quantitative data.

Read more…

International Scientific Laboratories in Russia (2012-2013)

Supervisors: Ronald InglehartDaniel Alexandrov

Participants: Tatiana KarabchukMarina Nikitina

The Laboratory for Comparative Social Research is conducting a sociological study on scientific laboratories with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science. These laboratories were established within the bounds of the grant program run by the government of the Russian Federation to provide state support for scientific research supervised by leading scholars at Russian higher education institutions. The objective of the current study is to collect data on the microclimate and organizational structure of the laboratories, and motivation and social attitudes of the laboratories' employees. The data is necessary for elaboration of proposals which are needed to maintain a stable feedback between the higher education institutions' administrations and research teams. The questionnaire poll of the international laboratories' staff is carried out by means of an online survey (the questionnaire is published on a special website in Russian and English). The laboratories' supervisors are informed in advance via e-mail. The study covers all 77 existing laboratories. The questionnaire poll is continuing at the moment. When it finishes, the analysis of collected data will be conducted which would include construction of different scales and indices for estimation of social feeling, internal microclimate, attitudes and expectations of the laboratories' employees.

Preliminary results


You may get familiar with the questionnaire here: LCSR Questionnaire.pdf. Please contact Marina Nikitina with any questions regarding the research.

Internal Empires: Social and Political Cultures of the Frontier  (2011-2012) 

ParticipantsRoberto FoaAnna Nemirovskaya

Brazil, Russia, the United States, and Canada are remarkably different in respect to climate, governance, and economic institutions, but one thing they have in common: that the elites of their capitals and Atlantic littoral consider themselves, to varying degrees and extents, as ‘European’; while their interior populations consider themselves the natives and true denizens of their land. This, we argue, is the distinctive pattern of a frontier society, in which the first wave of settlers establishes itself according to the tastes and hierarchies of the motherland, while subsequent waves, living in sheltered terrains distant from worldly affairs, identify instead with the great landmass which they have with great difficulty brought into mastery. It is also why each of these societies at some point in its history must wrestle with the tension between core and periphery, which politically is a struggle between cosmopolitan, liberal, and deferential norms of the coast, and isolationist, conservative, and economically libertarian values of the frontier. This project examines in greater detail the social and political cultures of the frontier, studying differences in social capital, history, governance, and political preferences in relation to core state areas. Using data from the six waves of the World Values Surveys, plus a range of statistical sources, we show significant yet predictable differences among frontier regions in areas such as voluntary association, civic activism, quality of institutions, and political preferences. 


Working paper


Individual Research Projects supervised by Ronald Inglehart

1. Ongoing projects:



2. Completed projects:



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