Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Sylwester, Kevin

Second Advisor

Burnett, Royce

Third Advisor

Becsi, Zsolt

Abstract

This dissertation considers corruption and education in Iraqi Kurdistan. The sample comes from survey interviews conducted at nineteen universities in the three Kurdistan cities of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The survey was administered between May and July of 2017. The survey focuses on couple areas: students’ basic demographic information as well as characteristics associated with their personal education such as GPA and field of study; perceptions regarding the quality of education in Kurdistan, not only at the university level but in an individual’s schooling at lower levels; the quality of the Iraqi Kurdistan government, including the prevalence of different types of corruption; and students’ expectations for their future prospects, including their expectation of receiving a high ranking government job. 957 surveys were completed. In Chapter 1, we consider corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan from university students perspectives. We provide three sets of results. The first shows how perceptions of corruption differ across different demographic characteristics. A second set looks at how corruption differs based on one’s city. A final set of results considers how perceptions of corruption differ across political parties. Our results suggest that corruption perceptions do not vary across most individual characteristics as few strong associations are uncovered. Family income is an exception with higher income families reporting greater incidences of corruption. Students, however, living in different cities do report different levels of corruption. One possibility is that corruption is more prevalent in Duhok and so attention at diminishing corruption should focus there. We also find that students not belonging to any political party report lower levels of corruption. Chapter 2, we examine associations between corruption and measures of educational quality but take a different approach than do others in this literature. I use a sample of university students and examine how their views of corruption within society relate to their perceptions of the quality of education they have received. The quality of education (QEDUC) measure is constructed similarly to the quality of education component of the human capital index from World Economic Forum (2013). The quality of education has five criteria: internet access in schools, quality of the education system in meeting the needs of a competitive economy; quality of primary schools; quality of math and science education; and administrative quality of schools. I use this index since it encompasses a wide variety of characteristics of the education system. We found that Internet access is strongly associated with corruption. The other aspect of educational quality most strongly associated with corruption is the extent to which education prepares one for a competitive economy. Although students do not generally associate corruption with specific components of their education like math or primary school, they do believe that corruption is impacting how well they educational system is preparing them beyond their days as students. Finally, in chapter 3, we consider to what extent self-reported political affiliation matters for expectations of university students in Iraqi Kurdistan anticipating public sector employment. The sample data was gathered from students I interviewed at nineteen universities in the Kurdish cities of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The survey was administered between May and July of 2017.The survey focuses on four areas: students’ basic demographic information as well as characteristics associated with their personal education such as GPA and field of study; perceptions regarding the quality of education in Kurdistan, not only at the university level but in an individual’s schooling at lower levels; the quality of the Iraqi Kurdistan government, including the prevalence of different types of corruption; and students’ expectations for their future prospects, including their expectation of receiving a high ranking government job. 957 surveys were completed. We find that party affiliation appears to influence one’s expectation of obtaining a good government job after graduating. As long as party affiliation does not correlate with attributes that increase productivity in public employment, then party affiliation is a characteristic not based on merit. the specific party to which one is affiliated does not seem to matter as much. The PDK is the largest party in the KRI but students in smaller parties such as the PKK are more likely to believe that they will find good public-sector jobs (although less can be said about members of the Goran Party). Nevertheless, we hope that these findings provide at least a first approach as to what extent party affiliation could matter in hiring.

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