Bo Rothstein

Bo Rothstein
University of Gothenburg | GU · Department of Political Science

PhD

About

143
Publications
80,450
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11,275
Citations
Citations since 2017
7 Research Items
5768 Citations
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Publications

Publications (143)
Preprint
Full-text available
Social trust underlies virtually any social and economic interaction and is a crucial ingredient for successful collective action. What causes social trust to develop, however, remains poorly understood. Institutional quality has been proposed as a candidate driver and has been shown to correlate with social trust. We provide experimental evidence...
Article
In reply to Marquette and Peiffer's article “Grappling With the ‘Real Politics’ of Systemic Corruption: Theoretical Debates Versus ‘Real‐World’ Functions,” this article employs three criticisms: Marquette and Peiffer's call to grapple with the “real politics of corruption” does not bring much new to the table, is conceptually flawed, and risks serv...
Article
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Epistemic democracy implies that in order for democratic decisions to be legitimate, it is no enough that they are taken according to established democratic procedures. In addition, epistemic democracy demands that two additional demands should be fulfilled, namely that the decisions produced by a democratic process also are ‘fair’ and ‘true’. The...
Chapter
This chapter makes five claims: (1) Corruption has a detrimental effect on overall human well-being. (2) Most existing programs for combatting corruption have not delivered. (3) Increased gender equality seems to be one important factor behind getting corruption under control. (4) Impartiality in the exercise of public power, not least when it “tra...
Article
Generalized trust has become a prominent concept at the nexus of several disciplines, and the wide differences in trust between different societies continue to puzzle the social sciences. In this study, we explore the effects of micro and macro level factors in explaining an individual's propensity to ‘trust others'. We hypothesize that higher leve...
Article
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We show a link between levels of mass education in 1870 and corruption levels in 2010 for seventy-eight countries that remains strong when controlling for change in the level of education, GDP/ capita, and democracy. A model for the causal mechanism between universal education and control of corruption is presented. Early introduction of universal...
Article
The authors argue that the concept of quality of government should be best understood as that of having impartial government institutions. This definition avoids functionalism, ignores the contents of specific policies in favor of the procedures for how they are implemented, and pertain to the output side of the political system. They discuss this...
Article
Issues about corruption and other forms of ‘bad government’ have become central in large parts of the social sciences. An unresolved question, however, is how countries can solve the issue of systemic corruption. In this article, based on Elinor Ostrom's theory of common pool resource appropriation, a new theoretical model for explaining this type...
Article
How and why some countries were able to make the historical transition from a patrimonial, nepotistic and corrupt bureaucracy to a clean, Weberian and professionalised one is still an under-studied topic in the literature on corruption. This article presents original data on such a transition in the case of Sweden, drawing on court hearings of case...
Article
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This article explores why, quite contrary to what dominant theories of corruption predict, bigger governments tend to be less corrupt than smaller ones. The findings?derived from the combination of an in-depth interview study conducted in Uganda, a cross-country, quantitative analysis, and an illustrative case study of a prominent political scandal...
Chapter
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (Werlin, 2007, 359). If this famous statement by Lord Acton of how the world works is correct, the power of elites obviously needs to be restrained to avoid corruption and bad rule (Werlin, 2007, 359). The power-corruption malaise is supposedly true for all kinds of power, but, as stated in the int...
Article
Much research has argued for the importance of state's administrative capacity for development. Disregard for the rule of law and failure to get corruption under control are seen as detrimental to economic and social development. The China paradox refers to the fact that in all commonly used measures of levels of corruption and the quality of gover...
Article
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This paper investigates how ideas and sociocultural preferences with regard to "public" versus "private" spheres can account for bribery and corruption. An improved understanding of corruption in terms of differences among cultures concerning which goods are considered private or public not only can have new and unexpected implications for a genera...
Article
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Corruption has turned out to be difficult to define and what should be counted as the opposite to corruption remains widely disputed. If the goal for a post-conflict society is not only to become democratic and prevent a return to violence but also to reduce systemic corruption, we need to know what it is that should be fought and how the opposite...
Article
One of the most significant European higher education reform initiatives of the last decade is the introduction of a European Qualification Framework (EQF) emphasising Learning Outcomes (LOs) in higher education. The EQF is offered as a reform to contribute to increased transparency and mobility, and also implies a certain degree of standardization...
Article
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The absence of democracy in the Arab–Muslim world is a ‘striking anomaly’ for democratization scholars. This cannot be seen as caused by religion as such, as there are now several democratic Muslim-majority states. Popular explanations such as values, culture, economic development, natural resources, or colonial legacy have been refuted. Based on O...
Article
Holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where he is head of the Quality of Government Institute. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy and a regular contributor to the public debate in Sweden.
Article
This article argues that bureaucratic capacity – the competence and reliability of the national bureaucracy – matters to the allocation of public spending among welfare state programmes since it is difficult for governments to justify high levels of spending on programmes that require bureaucrats to make case‐by‐case decisions, on a discretionary b...
Article
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In 1936, while Sweden gave birth to one of the most peaceful solutions to class conflict (i.e. the Neo-Corporatist Welfare State) with the iconic signature of the Saltsjöbaden Accord, Spain gave birth to the most violent results: the Spanish Civil War. Why did the political, social and economic elites choose collaboration in Sweden and violent conf...
Article
This book tackles a puzzle. Given the failings of neo-liberalism revealed by the economic crisis starting in 2008, why was social democracy not triumphant? After all, its political success over much of the post-war period was bolstered by a particular representation of the inter-war years and a belief that governments had put the old economics behi...
Article
With an increased awareness of the detrimental effects of corruption on development, strategies to fight it are now a top priority in policy circles. Yet, in countries ridden with systemic corruption, few successes have resulted from the investment. On the basis of an interview study conducted in Kenya and Uganda—two arguably typically thoroughly c...
Article
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Un importante problema al que se enfrenta el mundo contemporáneo es el relativo a cómo cons-truir gobiernos efectivos donde no existen. Aquí se presentan los componentes que son esenciales para la construcción y el mantenimiento de un gobierno efectivo. Se identifican mecanismos mediante los cuales al menos algunos de esos componentes pueden y lleg...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper addresses the following question: Can the weakening of the Social Democratic political project in Europe be explained by the fact the Social Democratic model of society no longer performs? In other words, can the recent electoral crisis in Social Democratic parties be seen as a rational response from an electorate saying good-bye to a so...
Article
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The importance of political institutions for economic growth and social well-being has been demonstrated in a number of studies. Societies in which agents trust that other agents will collaborate in establishing and maintaining efficient institutions produce more social benefits. Yet there is still no solution to the problem known as the social tra...
Chapter
The democratic model of society may be said to be based on a contract between the people and the authorities. The people grant to the authorities—for simplicity’s sake, we will use the term “the state” here, but it could just as well be regional or local authorities—the administration of a number of public goods. In modern societies, this not only...
Article
The roots of corruption are highly contested. We argue that there is a path dependence across almost a century and a half and present five theoretical arguments for the existence of a causal mechanism between universal education and control of corruption. We show a powerful statistical link between education levels in 1870 and corruption levels in...
Book
In all societies, the quality of government institutions is of the utmost importance for the well-being of its citizens. Problems like high infant mortality, lack of access to safe water, unhappiness and poverty are not primarily caused by a lack of technical equipment, effective medicines or other types of knowledge generated by the natural or eng...
Article
The hitherto most successful theory explaining why similar industrialized market economies have developed such varying systems for social protection is the Power Resource Theory (PRT), according to which the generosity of the welfare state is a function of working class mobilization. In this paper, we argue that there is an under-theorized link in...
Article
This article argues that good governance is a concern if a society is in possession of the political, legal, and administrative institutions which make it possible to enact and implement policies that can broadly be understood as public goods. It suggests that, in many cases, good governance does not only refer to certain qualities of government in...
Article
[W]hile there is substance to the belief that fi re- engines cannot be designed without a thorough understanding of the fi re they are intended to put out, there is also a sense in which the pervasiveness and tenacity of the current fi res of corruption are such that action rather than refi ning theories and processes is what is now required.
Chapter
On June 16, 2006, The New York Times had a front- page article about Angola. The article is introduced by a large picture showing two young boys and one young girl-a fair guess is that they are about 10 years old-fetching water from a stream that runs through what looks like an incredibly large garbage dump. The article starts with the following wo...
Article
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In many poor countries, over 80% of the population have experienced corrupt practices in the health sector. In rich countries, corruption takes other forms such as overbilling. The causal link between low levels of the quality of government (QoG) and population health can be either direct or indirect. Using cross-sectional data from more than 120 c...
Article
The absence of a single democracy in the Arab-Muslim world has become a “striking anomaly” for scholars of democratization. The lack of democratization in this part of the world cannot be seen as caused religion as such since there are by now several states with a majority of Muslims that have become democracies. Several other explanations such as...
Article
Full-text available
In policies for economic development, anti-corruption measures have received increased attention. The policy advice from the international “good governance regime”, which is based on the principal-agent theory, is geared towards incremental change that will set in motion a “virtues circle”. It is argued that this theory and the following incrementa...
Article
Even if competitive markets have shown themselves to be the most efficient organizational form for creating economic efficiency, the question of how they can avoid destructive influence from agents with opportunistic motives remains unresolved. Different institutional approaches have argued that to be efficient, markets need to be embedded in a set...
Chapter
Full-text available
Has the social democratic model of society stopped working?. This chapter addresses the following question: can the weakening of the social democratic political project in Europe be explained by the fact the social democratic model of society no longer performs? In other words, can the recent electoral crisis in social democratic parties be seen as...
Article
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Many studies suggests a harsh trade off, referred to as the “the new liberal dilemma,” between diversity and immigration and social capital. However, the relationship between immigrant status and trust can be better gauged by considering three interaction variables. First, informal neighbor interaction cushions the negative immigrant effect. Second...
Article
In many respects, Sweden is maybe the country where public policies to increase the equality between men and women have been most prolonged and advanced. In 1996 the UN declared Sweden to be the most gender-equal country in the world. However, women still take much more responsibility for children and domestic work than men do, leading to the repro...
Article
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In the discussion of how to understand the causes behind the current financial crises, the term “legal corruption” has been put forth as a description of what took place when major economic actors intervened to change existing regulations on the financial market. Even if at competitive markets have shown to be the most efficient organizational form...
Article
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In development policy, international organizations have shifted their focus to the importance of good governance and sound institutions. The theory behind this is that only with a high quality of government (QoG) can a country reap the benefits of economic growth and social development. We review the research behind this policy shift and offer a fi...
Article
In policies for economic development, anti-corruption measures have received increased attention. It is now possible to speak of an international "good governance" regime supported by many national and international aid organizations and their research institutes. The policy advice from this "regime" is to a large extent geared towards incremental...
Article
Four interrelated arguments are presented to form a theory about the relation between the logic of markets, social efficiency and the quality of government. The first is that competitive markets with a certain set of characteristics are the most efficient organizational form for creating a utilitarian based economic efficiency for the production of...
Article
This article argues that bureaucratic capacity – the competence and reliability of the national bureaucracy – matters to the allocation of public spending among welfare state programmes since it is difficult for governments to justify high levels of spending on programmes that require bureaucrats to make case-by-case decisions, on a discretionary b...
Article
Full-text available
Community-studies have a long tradition within European Ethnology. Almost without exception they have been neglecting the strong presence of public institutions of the welfare state - despite the fact that various social security and insurance systems are such an important factor in local life. These are the offices people turn to when they are ill...
Article
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In the discussion of the sources of social capital, it has been stressed that generalized trust is built up by the citizens themselves through a culture that permeates the networks and organizations of civil society. This approach has run into conceptual problems, and empirical evidence has provided only mixed support. An alternate approach is to h...
Article
The recent growth in research on “good governance” and the quality of government institutions has been propelled by empirical findings that show that such institutions may hold the key to understanding economic growth and social welfare in developing and transition countries. We argue, however, that a key issue has not been addressed, namely, what...
Article
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It is often held that the establishment of electoral democracy is key to the creation of political legitimacy. This article challenges this idea and presents an alternative. Many empirical studies reveal that electoral democracy has no necessary implications for the establishment of legitimacy. Even in the successful and stable Nordic democracies,...
Article
The question addressed in this article is: Why are some countries more corporatist than others? It is argued that neither pure micro-, nor pure macro-explanations can account for the great variation in the degree of corporatism (however measured) among western countries. Instead, an institutional variant is put forward, where the structure of the s...
Article
In what way does corporatist representation change the behaviour of participating organizations? The classical question is whether the interest organizations' representatives are captured or not. Sweden is one of the countries in which the class-based interest organizations are heavily represented in the central public administration. The importanc...
Article
The question addressed in this article is how to explain major intentional changes in national political systems. The theoretical point of departure is that political systems are usually so tightly structured that the prospects of actors introducing such changes are very small. The argument put forward is that only under certain periods of crisis c...
Article
The administrative problems of the present Welfare State have come into focus in recent research. The basic question being raised is whether an elected government can control the bureaucracies that handle the social programmes, i.e., whether the intentions of the parliamentary majority really can be translated into action when they reach the point...
Article
I am grateful to the editors of this journal to be given the possibility to comment on Michael Shalev's article. Although I have some minor disagreement with his general argument, I am also grateful to Michael Shalev for taking up what I think is an important question in comparative social science. I find myself in the curious position of being a t...
Article
The purpose of this article is to answer the following question: When did Swedish bureaucracy arise? That is, to determine a point in time when the organizational technology that Weber called bureaucracy became dominant in the process of Swedish state formation, as well as when bureaucracy finally replaced the feudal form of government based on the...
Article
This article addresses the recent claim that cross-national policy variations reflect in part differences in institutional origins and state characteristics. It provides a detailed analysis of how states institutionalized public employment exchanges. The authors argue that public employment exchanges will shape the legitimacy of government interven...
Article
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ENGL. TITLE: Institutional Foundations of Trust QUELLE/SOURCE: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 47, 2007, S. 113–140. KURZREFERAT: In diesem Artikel wird eine Theorie zu den Entstehungsbedingungen des Sozialkapitals präsentiert. Als Alternative zu den gängigen Erklärungen der Sozialkapitalproduktion wird das Hauptaugenmerk...
Article
In this article an alternative theory on the generation of social capital is presented. Contrary to standard accounts of social capital theory that emphasize how generalized trust is built up by the citizens themselves through a culture that permeates the networks and organizations of civil society. The focus here is how social capital is embedded...
Article
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The main question addressed in this paper is how the great variation in the level of social trust in different countries can be explained. Most empirical research on this question has been based on survey data which has limitations when it comes to capturing the causal mechanisms. Building on theories that point to the importance of trustworthy gov...
Article
The study of public policies in the contemporary Welfare States does not give enough consideration to the character of the public organizations that handle the concrete implementation. Building on recent neo-Marxist studies of public administration, this article examines the organizational connection to the ‘Active Labour Market Policy’ that was la...
Article
From the 1930s to the 1980s, Swedish politics was based on the assumption that social change could be accomplished through a specific political and administrative process. National politicians decided the aims of policy, government commissions of inquiry engaged experts who compiled available knowledge, Parliament turned the resulting proposal into...
Article
It is generally taken for granted that countries governed by leftist governments expand social policies and have an affinity for active fiscal policy that implies higher tolerance of deficit-ridden budgets. In contrast, conservative governments are taken to be less likely to favor welfare expansion, especially when it has negative fiscal consequenc...
Article
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- terligare en viktig typ av kapital vilket han benämnde det sociala kapitalet. huvud- tesen var att tillgången på socialt kapital gjorde det möjligt för en grupp människor att organisera samarbetsprojekt som alla stod att tjäna på om de kom till stånd. Kruxet i sådana projekt är emellertid att de flesta bara är beredda att bidra till sådant samarb...
Article
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We argue that the Swedish welfare state has proven its resilience to globalization and neo-liberalism. Our explanation is that the organization of the welfare state 1) gives the middle class stakes in its maintenance and 2) promotes attitudes of its distributional and procedural justice that translates to support of the welfare state. A transformat...
Article
Bo Rothstein explores how social capital and social trust are generated and what governments can do about it. A 'social trap' is a situation where individuals, groups or organizations are unable to cooperate owing to mutual distrust and lack of social capital, even where cooperation would benefit all. Examples include civil strife, pervasive corrup...
Article
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HE importance of social trust has become widely accepted in the social sciences. One reason for the interest in social trust is that, as measured in surveys, it correlates with a number of other variables that are normatively highly desirable. At the individual level, people who believe that in general most other people in their society can be trus...
Article
The importance of social trust has become widely accepted in the social sciences. A number of explanations have been put forward for the stark variation in social trust among countries. Among these, participation in voluntary associations received most attention. Yet, there is scant evidence that participation can lead to trust. In this paper, we s...
Article
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Since the debate about the importance of social capital and civil society for the quality of democracy began, Scandinavia has caused problems. Observers have been bewildered by an allegedly paradoxical coexistence of a wealth of social capital and extensive welfare-state arrangements. Some theorize that large welfare states make engagement in volun...
Article
In a speech to the German Bundestag in 1998, the well-known Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer stressed the role of intellectual elites and especially university professors in making the Holocaust possible. To this, he added the question: 'If we have indeed learnt anything, it is whether we do not still keep producing technically competent barbarians i...
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orskning är till sin natur internationell och multikulturell. Lika lite som det kan fi nnas en svensk matematik eller biologi, kan det fi nnas en samhällsvetenskap som begränsar sig till svenska förhållanden. Tvärtom är det så att vi bara kan för- klara svenska särdragen i svensk politik om vi jämför med andra länder. Även om aldrig så ivriga forsk...
Article
Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences. Edited by James Mahoney and Dietrich Rueschemeyer. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 468p. $70.00 cloth, $25.00 paper. Occasionally, when you have really talented graduate students, you are looking for a book that would challenge them to think deeply about their research. This is suc...
Chapter
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Countries in transition from socialism face particular problems in developing habits of trust and honesty. Under Soviet-style socialism, government institutions had become severely discredited among the population. Dishonest behavior toward them was often seen as acceptable and even praiseworthy in the face of their illegitimate power.In general, t...
Article
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In this special issue of Scandinavian Political Studies it is explored how the concept of social capital relates to the Scandinavian context. It is common knowledge that Scandinavia performs well with regard to many aspects of social capital, such as the level of trust and the density of membership in voluntary associations. Contrary to development...
Article
What makes a democracy work and which are the causes behind economic growth? One answer is given by Robert D. Putnam in his book about regional reforms in Italy during the 1970s and 1980s, which by now must be considered as a 'modern classic'. Putnam's theory, which is both complicated and sophisticated, is centred on the concept of social capital....

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Project (1)
Archived project
The project’s objectives is to analyze the relation between how democracies are organized and how they perform in generating human well-being, curb corruption and handling the public finances. The project was financed by an Advanced Research Grant to Professor Bo Rothstein from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (339571 PERDEM) and hosted by the Quality of Government Institute (University of Gothenburg, Sweden).