NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Elections in China

Monica Martinez-Bravo, Gerard Padró i Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yang Yao

NBER Working Paper No. 18101
Issued in May 2012
NBER Program(s):   POL   PE

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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This paper was revised on December 3, 2014

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18101

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