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Regional Decentralization and Fiscal Incentives: Federalism, Chinese Style

  • Hehui Jin
  • Yingyi Qian
  • Barry Weingast

March 1999 Second generation theories of federalism extend traditional approaches by systematically studying the role of government incentives in economic performance. Providing government with the incentive to promote markets is especially acute for developing economies or those in transition from central planning. In these countries, governments have often been the central barrier to economic development. In this paper, we investigate empirically decentralization and fiscal incentives in the central-provincial relationship during China's reform. We find strong correlations between local government revenue collection and local government expenditure. Further, we show that China's fiscal contracting system provides local governments with strong (marginal) fiscal incentives and at the same time improves horizontal distribution across provinces in budgetary spending. We also find that stronger fiscal incentives — measured in terms of higher marginal revenue retention rate — implies faster development of non-state enterprises and more reform in state-owned enterprises. Finally, we compare federalism, Chinese style, with federalism, Russian style.

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 99013.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:99013
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521027922 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Groves, Theodore, et al, 1994. "Autonomy and Incentives in Chinese State Enterprises," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 183-209, February.
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  18. Shah, Anwar, 1998. "Fiscal federalism and macroeconomic governance : for better or for worse?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2005, The World Bank.
  19. Martin L. Weitzman, 1980. "The "Ratchet Principle" and Performance Incentives," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 302-308, Spring.
  20. Wong, Christine P. W. (ed.), 1997. "Financing Local Government in the People's Republic of China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195900279, March.
  21. Epple, Dennis & Zelenitz, Allan, 1981. "The Implications of Competition among Jurisdictions: Does Tiebout Need Politics?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1197-1217, December.
  22. Eric Maskin & Yingyi Qian & Chenggang Xu, 1997. "Incentives, Information, and Organizational Form," Working Papers 97034, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  23. John Knight & Li Shi, 1999. "Fiscal decentralization: Incentives, redistribution and reform in China," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 5-32.
  24. Li, Hongbin & Zhou, Li-An, 2005. "Political turnover and economic performance: the incentive role of personnel control in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1743-1762, September.
  25. Lavrov, Aleksei & Litwack, John & Sutherland, Douglas, 2001. "Fiscal federalist relations in Russia: a case for subnational autonomy," MPRA Paper 26537, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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