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Political trust as rational belief: Evidence from Chinese village elections


  • Tao, Ran
  • Su, Fubing
  • Sun, Xin
  • Lu, Xi


Democratic governance is believed to improve government responsiveness to citizens' demand for public goods. In China, villagers' committee elections represent a major progress in China's development toward good governance. We develop a rational model to explain villagers' participation. Utilizing a national survey of rural residents in 2005, this paper tests the insights of the model. Two findings are of interest to the students of voting and elections. First, there is disagreement over the causal relationship between political trust and voting. This paper offers a rational interpretation of political trust by emphasizing the informational aspect of the concept. Second, voting is generally theorized as a process of overcoming various costs. The prospect of benefits figures more prominently in Chinese village elections. Our findings highlight the pivotal role of township governments in China's rural politics and reveal the inner dilemma of democratization in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Tao, Ran & Su, Fubing & Sun, Xin & Lu, Xi, 2011. "Political trust as rational belief: Evidence from Chinese village elections," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 108-121, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:1:p:108-121

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. 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.
    5. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kauder, Björn & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Just hire your spouse! Evidence from a political scandal in Bavaria," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 42-54.


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