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Health Shocks, Village Elections, and Long-Term Income: Evidence from Rural China

Author

Listed:
  • Li Gan
  • Lixin Colin Xu
  • Yang Yao

Abstract

Using a sample of households in 48 Chinese villages for the period 1986-2002, this paper studies the dynamic effects of major health shocks on household income and the role played by village elections in mitigating these effects. Our results show that in the first 15 years after a shock, a shock-hit household on average falls short of its normal income trajectory by 11.8% and its recovery would take 19 years. Based on the premise that shock-hit families impose negative externalities on richer families by borrowing from them, our political economy model predicts that the outcome of village elections would differ from that of a standard median voter model in that the elected village leaders tend to adopt pro-poor policies. Our empirical study finds that villages are more likely to establish a healthcare plan after the election is introduced. In addition, village elections reduce the probability of a household to borrow by 16.7% when one of its working adults is seriously sick. As a result, they reduce more than half of the negative effect of a health shock on household income.

Suggested Citation

  • Li Gan & Lixin Colin Xu & Yang Yao, 2006. "Health Shocks, Village Elections, and Long-Term Income: Evidence from Rural China," NBER Working Papers 12686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12686
    Note: HE LS PE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12686.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Liu, Shouying & Carter, Michael R. & Yao, Yang, 1998. "Dimensions and diversity of property rights in rural China: Dilemmas on the road to further reform," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 1789-1806, October.
    2. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, September.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Li Han, 2014. "Are elections in autocracies a curse for incumbents? Evidence from Chinese villages," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 221-242, January.
    2. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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