Provincial and Local Governments in China: Fiscal Institutions and Government Behavior

34 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2011 Last revised: 14 Mar 2011

See all articles by Roger H. Gordon

Roger H. Gordon

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Wei Li

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: January 2011

Abstract

What are the incentives faced by local officials in China? Without democratic institutions, there is no mechanism for local residents to exercise "voice". Given the hukou registration system, local residents have little opportunity to threaten "exit" if they are unhappy with local taxes and spending. This paper explores an alternative source of incentives, starting from the premise that local officials aim to maximize the jurisdiction's fiscal residual (profits), equal to local tax revenue minus expenditures on public services. In a Tiebout setting with mobile households, this objective should lead to efficient provision. What happens, though, if firms and economic activity but not people are mobile? The paper examines the incentives faced by local Chinese officials in this context, and argues that the forecasted behavior helps to explain both the successes and the problems arising from local government activity in China.

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Roger H. and Li, Wei, Provincial and Local Governments in China: Fiscal Institutions and Government Behavior (January 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16694. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1743318

Roger H. Gordon (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States
858-534-4828 (Phone)
858-534-7040 (Fax)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Wei Li

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
804-243-7691 (Phone)
804-243-7681 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/li.htm

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
25
Abstract Views
341
PlumX Metrics