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Citizenry Accountability in Autocracies. The Political Economy of Good Governance in China

Author

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  • Gilli, Mario

    () (University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Li, Yuan

    () (University of Duisburg--Essen)

Abstract

Do the citizens have a role in constraining policies in autocratic governments? Usually the political and economic literature model autocracy as if the citizens have no role in constraining leader’s behavior, but actually autocratic government are afraid of possible citizens’ revolts. In this paper we focus on contemporary China to analyze how citizens might induce an autocratic government to adopt congruent policies. Although there is no party or electoral competition, the leader fears deposition by coup d’état of the selectorate and revolutionary threats from citizens. We build a three player political agency model to study the role of both these constraints and we show that the effectiveness of the selectorate and of revolutionary threats are crucial factors in determining the policy outcomes. In particular, we show that the citizens can effectively discipline the leader because of the revolution threat notwithstanding the selectorate size, but this may result in a failed state when the costs of revolting and the selectorate size are small. As the size of the selectorate and the costs of revolution vary dramatically across countries, our result explain why different types of autocracies arise. In particular our model and results provide a useful framework to interpret China policy in the last twenty years.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilli, Mario & Li, Yuan, 2012. "Citizenry Accountability in Autocracies. The Political Economy of Good Governance in China," NEPS Working Papers 3/2012, Network of European Peace Scientists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:nepswp:2012_003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gilli Mario & Li Yuan, 2012. "Citizenry Accountability in Autocracies," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(3), pages 1-6, December.
    2. Yuan Li, 2014. "Downward accountability in response to collective actions," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 22(1), pages 69-103, January.
    3. Li, Yuan, 2013. "Downward Accountability in Response to Collective Actions: The Political Economy of Public Goods Provision in China," Stockholm School of Economics Asia Working Paper Series 2013-26, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute.
    4. Li, Yuan & Gilli, Mario, 2014. "Accountability in Autocracies: The Role of Revolution Threat," Stockholm School of Economics Asia Working Paper Series 2014-30, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm China Economic Research Institute, revised 06 Mar 2014.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autocracy; Accountability; Revolt; Chinese Economic Reform;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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