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Elections in China

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

We examine the effects of introducing village elections on public goods expenditures, income distribution and land use in rural China. We construct a large panel data set of village administrative records to document the history of political reforms and economic policies for over two hundred villages. We exploit the staggered timing of the introduction of village elections to find that elections significantly increased public goods expenditure financed by villagers. In addition, we find that the introduction of elections caused a moderate decline in income inequality and likely reduced corruption. The results suggest that local officials are better controlled by local elections rather than by centrally managed bureaucratic monitoring.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18101.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18101
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  1. Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 11753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2011. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1274-1311, June.
  3. Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín Rossi, 2008. "Term Length and Political Performance," NBER Working Papers 14511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 267-93, March.
  5. Martinez-Bravo, Monica & Padró i Miquel, Gerard & Qian, Nancy & Yao, Yang, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," CEPR Discussion Papers 8368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Dani Rodrik & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Do Democratic Transitions Produce Bad Economic Outcomes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 50-55, May.
  7. 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.
  8. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  9. Monica Martinez-Bravo, 2014. "The Role of Local Officials in New Democracies: Evidence from Indonesia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1244-87, April.
  10. Barro, Robert J, 1996. " Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Rozelle Scott & Boisvert Richard N., 1994. "Quantifying Chinese Village Leaders' Multiple Objectives," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-45, February.
  15. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Special Interest Politics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262571676, June.
  16. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
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