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The Economics of Communist Party Membership: The Curious Case of Rising Numbers and Wage Premium during China's Transition

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  • Simon Appleton
  • John Knight
  • Lina Song
  • Qingjie Xia

Abstract

As the Chinese Communist Party has loosened its grip in a more market-oriented economy, why have membership and the economic benefits of joining risen? We use three national household surveys over 11 years to answer this question for wages in urban China. Individual demand for Party membership is treated as an investment in 'political capital' that brings monetary rewards in terms of a wage premium that has risen in recent years. However, this does not explain why the wage premium is higher for the personal characteristics that reduce the probability of membership. Rationing with a scarcity value for members with those characteristics provides an explanation.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Appleton & John Knight & Lina Song & Qingjie Xia, 2009. "The Economics of Communist Party Membership: The Curious Case of Rising Numbers and Wage Premium during China's Transition," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(2), pages 256-275.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:45:y:2009:i:2:p:256-275
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380802264739
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General
    • P30 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General

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