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Signal and Political Accountability: Environmental Petitions in China


  • Jiankun LU

    (Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics. Address: Xueyuan Street No. 18, Xiasha Higher Education Park, Hangzhou, China, 310018)

  • Pi-Han Tsai

    (Zhejiang University. Address: 38 Zheda Rd, Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, 310027)


Vertical accountability in China has long been considered as essentially indirect or informal. This paper provides evidence that direct local accountability may exist to a greater or lesser degree in China under current political institutions. By using provincial environmental petition data, this paper finds that the number of environmental petitions is positively associated with provincial governments' investments in pollution mitigation. The increased petitions serve as a signal to provincial leaders of the possibility of potential social instability. However, since "local" provincial party secretaries are better informed, the signaling effect of the petitions is lessened in these cases.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiankun LU & Pi-Han Tsai, 2017. "Signal and Political Accountability: Environmental Petitions in China," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1711, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:nan:wpaper:1711

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yankun Zhou & Le Luo & Hongtao Shen, 2022. "Community pressure, regulatory pressure and corporate environmental performance," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 47(2), pages 368-392, May.

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    More about this item


    political signal; political accountability; environmental expenditure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • P26 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Property Rights
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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