Understanding Informal Payments in Kazakhstan:Causes and Implications
This paper explores the link between welfare state retrenchment and informal institutions in the education sector in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. I argue that underinvestment by the state in education has significantly increased the scope of informal exchanges in the post-independence period. People use informal networks and payments to gain access to quality education. While informal payments by parents prevail in secondary education, bribery is more widespread in institutions of higher education. Informal exchange continues to play an important role in gaining access to scarce resources in post-Soviet Kazakhstan.
In post-communist Kazakhstan, the exchange of money for favors is a widespread and deeply embedded practice in medical facilities. Prompt medical care of better quality, authorizations to receive state-supported high-cost care within government funding limits, and various health-related certificates are commonly traded for cash. This paper aims to demonstrate why and how ordinary people make informal payments in exchange for healthcare services. Here I argue that the prevalence of informal payments by patients is not only a result of significant welfare state retrenchment after the collapse of the Soviet economy, but also a reflection of the commodification of the society at large in which the market ethos places monetary value on all kinds of transactions and human relationships.