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

  • Birney, Mayling
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    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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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X13000120
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    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
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

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    1. Monica Martinez-Bravo & Gerard Padró i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," NBER Working Papers 16948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
    5. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
    6. Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Decentralization of Governance and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 185-205, Fall.
    7. Loren Brandt & Matthew Turner, 2006. "The Usefulness of Corruptible Elections," Working Papers tecipa-233, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    8. Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Eight Questions about Corruption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 19-42, Summer.
    9. Wang, Xu, 1997. "Mutual empowerment of state and peasantry: Grassroots democracy in rural China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1431-1442, September.
    10. 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.
    11. Seabright, Paul, 1994. "Accountability and Decentralization in Government: An Incomplete Contracts Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    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.
    13. 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.
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