NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Monica Martinez-Bravo

CEMFI
Casado del Alisal, 5
28014 Madrid, Spain

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros (CEMFI)

NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 2017The Rise and Fall of Local Elections in China: Theory and Empirical Evidence on the Autocrat's Trade-off
with Gerard Padró I Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yang Yao: w24032
We propose a simple informational theory to explain why autocratic regimes introduce local elections. Because citizens have better information on local officials than the distant central government, delegation of authority via local elections improves selection and performance of local officials. However, local officials under elections have no incentive to implement unpopular centrally mandated policies. The model makes several predictions: i) elections pose a trade-off between performance and vertical control; ii) elections improve the selection of officials; and iii) an increase in bureaucratic capacity reduces the desirability of elections for the autocrat. To test (i) and (ii), we collect a large village-level panel dataset from rural China. Consistent with the model, we find that ele...
May 2012Elections in China
with Gerard Padró i Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yang Yao: w18101
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.
April 2011Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China
with Gerard Padró i Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yang Yao: 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.
 
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