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Decentralization and Veiled Corruption under China’s “Rule of Mandates”

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  • Birney, Mayling
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    Abstract

    This paper shows why corruption is especially difficult to detect under China’s system of decentralized authoritarian rule, which I call a “rule of mandates.” Local officials must pursue high priority political targets but have immense discretion over which laws to implement. A relative standard for corruption consequently arises since non-implementation of laws may be mandate-serving or may be corrupt; and determining which requires extra information on why non-implementation occurred. The theory is supported by evidence from original survey and case research on the implementation of the village elections law. I discuss implications for anticorruption efforts, development patterns, and future research.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

    Volume (Year): 53 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 55-67

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:53:y:2014:i:c:p:55-67

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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    Keywords: Asia; China; corruption; authoritarianism; decentralization; rule of law;

    References

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    1. Loren Brandt & Matthew Turner, 2006. "The Usefulness of Corruptible Elections," Working Papers tecipa-233, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
    3. Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Eight Questions about Corruption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 19-42, Summer.
    4. Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
    5. Wang, Xu, 1997. "Mutual empowerment of state and peasantry: Grassroots democracy in rural China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1431-1442, September.
    6. Luo, Renfu & Zhang, Linxiu & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott, 2007. "Elections, fiscal reform and public goods provision in rural China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 583-611, September.
    7. Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Decentralization of Governance and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 185-205, Fall.
    8. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
    9. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
    10. Chen, Kang, 2004. "Fiscal centralization and the form of corruption in China," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 1001-1009, November.
    11. Rock, Michael T. & Bonnett, Heidi, 2004. "The Comparative Politics of Corruption: Accounting for the East Asian Paradox in Empirical Studies of Corruption, Growth and Investment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 999-1017, June.
    12. Besley, Timothy & Burgess, Robin, 2001. "Political agency, government responsiveness and the role of the media," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 629-640, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2014. "Modeling the Transition Towards Renminbi's Full Convertibility: Implications for China’s Growth," MPRA Paper 54129, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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