Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China
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.
We acknowledge financial support from NSF Grant no. 0922087 for the collection of the Village Democracy Surveys (2006, 2011), the Yale University EGC Faculty Grant and the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) / ERC Starting Grant Agreement no. 283837. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.