Counting Cadres: A Comparative View of the Size of China’s Public Employment
Yuen Yuen Ang
University of Michigan - Department of Political Science
December 23, 2011
The China Quarterly, September 2012, pp. 676-696
Is China’s public bureaucracy overstaffed? To answer this basic question objectively, one needs to define public employment in the contemporary Chinese context; survey data sources available to measure public employment; and finally, compare China’s public employment size vis-à-vis other countries. Using a variety of new sources, this article performs all three tasks. It also goes further to clarify the variance between bianzhi (formally established posts) and actual staffing size, as well as other permutations of the bianzhi system, especially chaobian (exceeding the bianzhi). A key finding is that China’s net public employment per capita is not as large as often perceived; quite the contrary, China’s public employment size per capita is one-third below the international mean. However, it is clear that the actual number of employees in the party-state bureaucracy has grown – and is still growing – steadily since reforms, despite repeated downsizing campaigns. Such expansion has been heavily concentrated at the sub-provincial levels and among shiye danwei (extra-bureaucracies).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: public employment, bureaucracy, local governance, over-staffing, ChinaAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 27, 2012 ; Last revised: May 8, 2013
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