The Rise and Fall of Local Elections in China

  title={The Rise and Fall of Local Elections in China},
  author={Monica Martinez-Bravo and Gerard Padr{\'o} i Miquel and Nancy Qian and Yang Yao},
  journal={American Economic Review},
We posit that autocrats introduce local elections when their bureaucratic capacity is low. Local elections exploit citizens’ informational advantage in keeping local officials accountable, but they also weaken vertical control. As bureaucratic capacity increases, the autocrat limits the role of elected bodies to regain vertical control. We argue that these insights can explain the introduction of village elections in rural China and the subsequent erosion of village autonomy years later. We… 

Public participation in democracy, local accountability and happiness: Evidence from rural China

This study examines how an important reform of local governance—village democracy—in the world’s most populous areas has affected the happiness of residents in rural China. We find that introducing

Democratization, Elite Capture and Economic Development

We show using a theoretical framework that embeds a voting model in a general-equilibrium model of a rural economy with two interest groups defined by land ownership that the effects of

Electoral Responsiveness in Closed Autocracies: Evidence from Petitions in the former German Democratic Republic

  • Hans Lueders
  • Political Science
    American Political Science Review
  • 2021
Contested elections are usually seen as precondition for constituent responsiveness. By contrast, I show that even uncontested elections can create incentives for autocratic regimes to address

Vote Buying as Rent Seeking: Land Sales in China’s Village Elections

What explains why vote buying occurs in some elections but not others? The phenomenon of vote buying is under-studied in authoritarian, single-party-dominant regimes, especially in non-partisan


This paper presents evidence that autocrats use state-owned firms to strategically pacify social unrest via employment provision, a role which may contribute to their favorable treatment and

Anti-corruption and poverty alleviation: Evidence from China



The Usefulness of Imperfect Elections: The Case of Village Elections in Rural China

Using a sample of rural Chinese villages, which have recently been the subject of democratic reforms, we look for relationships between marginal changes in the democratic process and marginal changes

Village Elections, Public Goods Investments and Pork Barrel Politics, Chinese-style

Abstract A key issue in political economy concerns the accountability that governance structures impose on public officials and how elections and representative democracy influence the allocation of

Elections, Information, and Policy Responsiveness in Autocratic Regimes

The responsiveness of policy to election results is a central component of democracy. Do the outcomes of autocratic elections also affect policy choice? Even when the threat of turnover is low, I

The Chinese Debate Over Village Self-Government

Western interest in the prospect of village democracy in China is booming. Journalists, diplomats and international grant officers have all taken heed of the fact that elections are being held at

Does grassroots democracy reduce income inequality in China?

Decentralization, Corruption And Government Accountability: An Overview

The impact of government decentralization on economic performance and growth is a hotly contested issue. Waves of decentralization occurred in many developing countries over the past few decades,

Implementing Political Reform in China's Villages

  • K. O’Brien
  • Political Science
    The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs
  • 1994
Why has it been exceedingly difficult to restructure China's village-level, political institutions? Over and above hurdles arising from belated leadership support and bureaucratic squabbling,

Political Selection in China: The Complementary Roles of Connections and Performance

Who becomes a top politician in China? We focus on provincial leaders—a pool of candidates for top political office—and examine how their chances of promotion depend on their performance in office

Did Government Decentralization Cause China's Economic Miracle?

Many scholars attribute China's market reforms and the remarkable economic performance they have fostered in part to the country's political and fiscal decentralization. Political decentralization is