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Fiscal Decentralization and Peasants' Financial Burden in China

Author

Listed:
  • Jing Jin

    (Central University of Finance and Economics)

  • Chunli Shen

    (University of Maryland)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (CEMA, Central University of Finance and Economics
    Shenzhen University
    Peking University
    Wuhan University)

Abstract

This paper sheds light on the heavy financial burden on peasants in China's fiscal decentralization system. Using a political economy framework, this paper explores the tax-farming nature of China's fiscally decentralized system and examines why the system incurs a particularly heavy financial burden on peasants. Specifically, it points out that a political hierarchy financed by a tax-farming system in China, fails to contain the exploitative behavior of local officials, which results in the expenditure devolution and revenue centralization within the hierarchy. Ultimately, peasants bear the brunt of the tax burden. As the financial pressure of excessive levies and fees reaches a perilous point, peasants are resorting to violent protests. Unless a fiscally decentralized system with horizontal accountability mechanisms evolves, the country's ability to sustain a centralized polity may become increasingly undermined. A case study of township finance is used to exemplify the exploitative nature of China's fiscal decentralization system.

Suggested Citation

  • Jing Jin & Chunli Shen & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralization and Peasants' Financial Burden in China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(1), pages 53-90, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2012:v:13:i:1:jinshenzou
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter Stella, 1993. "Tax Farming: A Radical Solution for Developing Country Tax Problems?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 40(1), pages 217-225, March.
    2. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922.
    3. Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "Federalism as a Commitment to Reserving Market Incentives," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 83-92, Fall.
    4. Francesca Fornasari & Steven B. Webb & Heng-fu Zou, 2000. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Decentralized Spending and Deficits: International Evidence," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 1(2), pages 403-433, November.
    5. Yin Heng, 2008. "Fiscal Disparities and the Equalization Effects of Fiscal Transfers at the County Level in China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 9(1), pages 115-149, May.
    6. Jan K. Brueckner, 2000. "Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: The Effects of Local Corruption and Tax Evasion," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, May.
    7. Bahl, Roy W. & Wallich, Christine, 1992. "Intergovernmental fiscal relations in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 863, The World Bank.
    8. Wildavsky, Aaron, 1985. "A cultural theory of expenditure growth and (Un)balanced budgets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 349-357, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chunli Shen & Jing Jin & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralization in China: History, Impact, Challenges and Next Steps," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(1), pages 1-51, May.
    2. Wang, Zhiguo & Ma, Liang, 2012. "New Development of Fiscal Decentralization in China," MPRA Paper 36918, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Zhiguo Wang & Liang Ma, 2014. "Fiscal Decentralization in China: A Literature Review," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(1), pages 51-65, May.
    4. Richard M. Bird, 2006. "Taxing Land and Property in Emerging Economies: Raising Revenue...and More?," International Tax Program Papers 0605, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal decentralization; Public finance; Budget; Corruption; Financial burden; China;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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