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The Mortality Cost of Political Connections

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  • Raymond Fisman
  • Yongxiang Wang

Abstract

We study the relationship between the political connections of Chinese firms and workplace fatalities. In our preferred specification we find that the worker death rate for connected companies is two to three times that of unconnected firms (depending on the sample employed), a pattern that holds for within-firm estimations. The connections-mortality relationship is attenuated in provinces where safety regulators' promotion is contingent on meeting safety targets. In the absence of fatalities, connected firms receive fewer reports of major violations for safety compliance, whereas in years of fatal accidents the rate of reported violations is identical. Moreover, fatal accidents produce negative returns at connected companies and are associated with the subsequent departure of well-connected executives. These results provide suggestive evidence that connections enable firms to avoid (potentially costly) compliance measures, rather than using connections to avoid regulatory response after accidents occur. Our findings emphasize the social costs of political connections, and suggest that appropriate regulatory incentives may be useful in mitigating these costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Raymond Fisman & Yongxiang Wang, 2015. "The Mortality Cost of Political Connections," NBER Working Papers 21266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21266
    Note: CF DEV LE POL
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    Cited by:

    1. Kuvvet, Emre & Maskara, Pankaj Kumar, 2018. "Former members of the U.S. Congress and fraud enforcement: Does it help to have politically connected friends on the board?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 77-89.
    2. Panagiota Papadimitri & Fotios Pasiouras & Gioia Pescetto & Ansgar Wohlschlegel, 2018. "Does Political Influence Distort Banking Regulation? Evidence from the US," Working Papers in Economics & Finance 2018-09, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Economics and Finance Subject Group.
    3. Caterina Gennaioli & Gaia Narciso, 2017. "Toxic roads: Unearthing hazardous waste dumping," Trinity Economics Papers tep1817, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    4. González, Felipe & Prem, Mounu, 2018. "The value of political capital: Dictatorship collaborators as business elites," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 217-230.
    5. Lehne, Jonathan & Shapiro, Jacob N. & Vanden Eynde, Oliver, 2018. "Building connections: Political corruption and road construction in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 62-78.
    6. Hou, Qingsong & Hu, May & Yuan, Yuan, 2017. "Corporate innovation and political connections in Chinese listed firms," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 46(PA), pages 158-176.
    7. Zhang, Cui, 2017. "Political connections and corporate environmental responsibility: Adopting or escaping?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 539-547.
    8. Lehne, Jonathan & Shapiro, Jacob N. & Vanden Eynde, Oliver, 2018. "Building connections: Political corruption and road construction in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 62-78.
    9. Lei, Zhenhuan & Nugent, Jeffrey B., 2018. "Coordinating China's economic growth strategy via its government-controlled association for private firms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 1273-1293.
    10. Vitezslav Titl & Kristof De Witte & Benny Geys, 2019. "Political donations, public procurement and government efficiency," CESifo Working Paper Series 7591, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Titl, Vitezslav & Geys, Benny, 2019. "Political donations and the allocation of public procurement contracts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 443-458.
    12. Dorobantu, Sinziana & Müllner, Jakob, 2019. "Debt-side governance and the geography of project finance syndicates," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 161-179.
    13. Cheng, Lei & Cheng, Hong & Zhuang, Ziyin, 2019. "Political connections, corporate innovation and entrepreneurship: Evidence from the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES)," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 286-305.
    14. Chen, Yi-Chun & Hung, Mingyi & Wang, Yongxiang, 2018. "The effect of mandatory CSR disclosure on firm profitability and social externalities: Evidence from China," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 169-190.
    15. Kai Wang & Hao-Min Zhang & Sang-Bing Tsai & Li-Dong Wu & Kun-Kun Xue & He-Jun Fan & Jie Zhou & Quan Chen, 2018. "Does a Board Chairman’s Political Connection Affect Green Investment?—From a Sustainable Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(3), pages 1-14, February.
    16. Liu, Qigui & Luo, Tianpei & Tian, Gary, 2016. "Political connections with corrupt government bureaucrats and corporate M&A decisions: A natural experiment from the anti-corruption cases in China," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 52-80.
    17. Jakob Müllner, 2017. "International project finance: review and implications for international finance and international business," Management Review Quarterly, Springer, vol. 67(2), pages 97-133, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy

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