NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Yang Yao

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Working Papers

December 2012Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China
with Gerard Padro i Miquel, Nancy Qian: w18633
This study examines how the economic effects of elections in rural China depend on voter heterogeneity, for which we proxy with religious fractionalization. We first document religious composition and the introduction of village-level elections for a nearly nationally representative sample of over two hundred villages. Then, we examine the interaction effect of heterogeneity and the introduction of elections on village-government provision of public goods. The interaction effect is negative. We interpret this as evidence that voter heterogeneity constrains the potential benefits of elections for public goods provision.
May 2012The Effects of Democratization on Public Goods and Redistribution: Evidence from China
with Monica Martinez-Bravo, Gerard PadrĂ³ i Miquel, Nancy Qian: w18101
This study investigates the effects of introducing elections on public goods and redistribution in rural China. We collect a large and unique survey to document the history of political reforms and economic policies and exploit the staggered timing of the introduction of elections for causal identification. We find that elections significantly increase public goods expenditure, the increase corresponds to demand and is paralleled by an increase in public goods provision and local taxes. We also find that elections cause significant income redistribution within villages. The results support the basic assumptions of recent theories of democratization (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2000; Lizzeri and Persico, 2004). In addition, we show that the main mechanism underlying the effect of elections is in...
April 2011Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China
with Monica Martinez-Bravo, Gerard PadrĂ³ i Miquel, Nancy Qian: w16948
We use unique survey data to study whether the introduction of local elections in China made local leaders more accountable towards local constituents. We develop a simple model to predict the effects on different policies of increasing local leader accountability, taking into account that there is an autocratic upper government. We exploit variation in the timing of the top-down introduction of elections across villages to estimate the causal effects of elections and find that elections affected policy outcomes in a way that is consistent with the predicted effects of increased local leader accountability.
November 2006Health Shocks, Village Elections, and Long-Term Income: Evidence from Rural China
with Li Gan, Lixin Colin Xu: w12686
Using a sample of households in 48 Chinese villages for the period 1986-2002, this paper studies the dynamic effects of major health shocks on household income and the role played by village elections in mitigating these effects. Our results show that in the first 15 years after a shock, a shock-hit household on average falls short of its normal income trajectory by 11.8% and its recovery would take 19 years. Based on the premise that shock-hit families impose negative externalities on richer families by borrowing from them, our political economy model predicts that the outcome of village elections would differ from that of a standard median voter model in that the elected village leaders tend to adopt pro-poor policies. Our empirical study finds that villages are more likely to establish ...

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