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Podcast Episode #1090: “Obesity of Politicians, Corruption in Countries”

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK.

In the Ig Informal Lectures, some days after the ceremony, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it.

In Podcast Episode #1090, Marc Abrahams presents the 2021 Ig Nobel Prize for Economics winner Pavlo Blavatskyy. They received the prize for discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.

REFERENCE: “Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,” Pavlo Blavatskyy, Economic of Transition and Institutional Change, vol. 29, no. 2, 2021, pp. 343-356.

The video for this lecture—graphs, charts and all—can be found online at

Where, you might wonder, did Professor Blavatskyy get the idea to do his study. The magazine Midi Libre interviewed Professor Blavatsky last year, and inquired. Here is part of their interview [translated here into English]:

How did the idea for this study come about?

By chance. I read in the newspaper the story of Volodymyr Zelensky, a Ukrainian actor who played a president who fought against corruption in a series, and he finally became the favorite in the first round of the real Ukrainian presidential election in 2017. So that I am not a specialist in this question, I asked myself the simple academic question: how to measure corruption? And I realized that the almost untraceable way to bribe a politician was to invite him to a restaurant. And when someone is often invited to the restaurant, he tends to gain weight.

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

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