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Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China

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  • Mu, Ren
  • Zhang, Xiaobo

Abstract

Do elected leaders in an authoritarian regime have any real power? Does grassroots democracy in a one-party state entail parochial problems? Making use of primary survey data covering two election cycles in a mountainous area of China, where an administrative village consists of several natural villages (NVs), we find that elected village heads favor their home NVs in resource allocations, especially when these NVs have a large population. In contrast, the home NVs of appointed Communist Party secretaries do not receive disproportionately more resources, on average. This pattern of resource allocation is compatible with the interest of village heads and suggests that as elected leaders, village heads have some true power in resource distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2014. "Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 17-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:107:y:2014:i:c:p:17-27
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2013.10.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Dreher, Axel & Fuchs, Andreas & Hodler, Roland & Parks, Bradley C. & Raschky, Paul A. & Tierney, Michael J., 2015. "Aid on Demand: African Leaders and the Geography of China's Foreign Assistance," CEPR Discussion Papers 10704, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. repec:eee:deveco:v:133:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Véronique Gille, 2016. "Application for social programs: the role of local politics and caste networks in affirmative action in India," Working Papers DT/2016/13, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    4. Székely-Doby, András, 2014. "A kínai reformfolyamat politikai gazdaságtani logikája
      [The politico-economic logic of the Chinese reform process]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1397-1418.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Allocations of public goods; Favoritism; Election; Appointed leader; China;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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