IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China

  • Martinez-Bravo, Monica
  • Padró i Miquel, Gerard
  • Qian, Nancy
  • Yao, Yang

We use unique survey data to study whether the introduction of local elections in China made local leaders more accountable towards local constituents. We develop a simple model to predict the effects on different policies of increasing local leader accountability, taking into account that there is an autocratic upper government. We exploit variation in the timing of the top-down introduction of elections across villages to estimate the causal effects of elections and find that elections affected policy outcomes in a way that is consistent with the predicted effects of increased local leader accountability.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8368.

in new window

Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8368
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.

Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part I: A Single Policy Task," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 169-179, March.
  2. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 2008. "Bureaucrats or politicians? Part II: Multiple policy tasks," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 426-447, April.
  4. Esther Duflo & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, 2004. "Women as policy makers: Evidence from a randomized policy experiment in india," Framed Field Experiments 00224, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Oka, Natsuko, 2009. "Ethnicity and Elections under Authoritarianism: The Case of Kazakhstan," IDE Discussion Papers 194, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  6. Alain de Janvry & Frederico Finan & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2010. "Local Electoral Incentives and Decentralized Program Performance," NBER Working Papers 16635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Benjamin Olken, 2005. "Monitoring corruption: Evidence from a field experiment in indonesia," Natural Field Experiments 00317, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Jiahua Che & Yingyi Qian, 1997. "Insecure Property rights and Government Ownership of Firms," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 51, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  9. Martina Björkman & Jakob Svensson, 2009. "Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 735-769.
  10. Hanan G. Jacoby & Guo Li & Scott Rozelle, 2002. "Hazards of Expropriation: Tenure Insecurity and Investment in Rural China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1420-1447, December.
  11. Barro, Robert J, 1996. "Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
  12. Loren Brandt & Scott Rozelle & Matthew A. Turner, 2002. "Local Government Behavior and Property Right Formation in Rural China," Working Papers mturner-02-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  14. Jiahua Che & Yingyi Qian, 1998. "Insecure Property Rights and Government Ownership of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 467-496.
  15. AfDB AfDB, 2010. "Working Paper Series – Author Guidelines," Working Paper Series 357, African Development Bank.
  16. Cai, Hongbin, 2003. " A Theory of Joint Asset Ownership," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 63-77, Spring.
  17. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "The role of elected and appointed village leaders in the allocation of public resources: Evidence from a low-income region in China," IFPRI discussion papers 1061, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  18. Zhang, Xiaobo & Fan, Shenggen & Zhang, Linxiu & Huang, Jikun, 2004. "Local governance and public goods provision in rural China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2857-2871, December.
  19. Rozelle, Scott & Li, Guo, 1998. "Village Leaders and Land-Rights Formation in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 433-38, May.
  20. Casey B. Mulligan & Ricard Gil & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2004. "Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 51-74, Winter.
  21. Shen, Yan & Yao, Yang, 2008. "Does grassroots democracy reduce income inequality in China?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2182-2198, October.
  22. Meng, Xin & Qian, Nancy & Yared, Pierre, 2010. "The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-61," CEPR Discussion Papers 8012, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Loren Brandt & Matthew A. Turner, 2007. "The Usefulness Of Imperfect Elections: The Case Of Village Elections In Rural China," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 453-480, November.
  24. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
  26. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  27. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
  28. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
  29. Li Gan & Lixin Colin Xu & Yang Yao, 2007. "Local elections and consumption insurance : evidence from Chinese villages," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4205, The World Bank.
  30. Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín Rossi, 2008. "Term Length and Political Performance," NBER Working Papers 14511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2005. "Democracy, Volatility, and Economic Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 348-361, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8368. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.