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Citizenry Accountability in Autocracies. The Political Economy of Good Governance in China

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  • Gilli, Mario

    ()
    (University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Li, Yuan

    ()
    (University of Duisburg--Essen)

Abstract

Do the citizens have a role in constraining policies in autocratic governments? Usually the political and economic literature model autocracy as if the citizens have no role in constraining leader’s behavior, but actually autocratic government are afraid of possible citizens’ revolts. In this paper we focus on contemporary China to analyze how citizens might induce an autocratic government to adopt congruent policies. Although there is no party or electoral competition, the leader fears deposition by coup d’état of the selectorate and revolutionary threats from citizens. We build a three player political agency model to study the role of both these constraints and we show that the effectiveness of the selectorate and of revolutionary threats are crucial factors in determining the policy outcomes. In particular, we show that the citizens can effectively discipline the leader because of the revolution threat notwithstanding the selectorate size, but this may result in a failed state when the costs of revolting and the selectorate size are small. As the size of the selectorate and the costs of revolution vary dramatically across countries, our result explain why different types of autocracies arise. In particular our model and results provide a useful framework to interpret China policy in the last twenty years.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Network of European Peace Scientists in its series NEPS Working Papers with number 3/2012.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 05 Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:nepswp:2012_003

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Keywords: Autocracy; Accountability; Revolt; Chinese Economic Reform;

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Cited by:
  1. Li, Yuan & Gilli, Mario, 2014. "Accountability in Autocracies: The Role of Revolution Threat," Working Paper Series 2014-30, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 06 Mar 2014.
  2. Li, Yuan, 2013. "Downward Accountability in Response to Collective Actions: The Political Economy of Public Goods Provision in China," Working Paper Series 2013-26, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics.

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