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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. Zhang, Xiaobo & Fan, Shenggen & Zhang, Linxiu & Huang, Jikun, 2002. "Local governance and public goods provision in rural China:," EPTD discussion papers 93, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Rozelle Scott & Boisvert Richard N., 1994. "Quantifying Chinese Village Leaders' Multiple Objectives," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 25-45, February.
  3. Loren Brandt & Scott Rozelle & Matthew A. Turner, 2004. "Local Government Behavior and Property Right Formation in Rural China," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(4), pages 627-, December.
  4. 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.
  5. Barro, Robert J, 1996. " Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-27, March.
  6. 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.
  7. Benjamin Olken, 2005. "Monitoring corruption: Evidence from a field experiment in indonesia," Natural Field Experiments 00317, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. 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.
  9. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
  10. Xin Meng & Nancy Qian & Pierre Yared, 2010. "The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-61," NBER Working Papers 16361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín Rossi, 2008. "Term Length and Political Performance," NBER Working Papers 14511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Monica Martinez-Bravo & Gerard Padró i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," NBER Working Papers 16948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Special Interest Politics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262571676, June.
  16. 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.
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