Tragedy of the Nomenklatura: Career Incentives and Political Radicalism during China's Great Leap Famine

American Political Science Review, Vol. 105, No. 1, 2011

59 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2012

See all articles by Shuo Chen

Shuo Chen

Fudan University - Department of Economics

James Kai-Sing Kung

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Date Written: July 8, 2010

Abstract

A salient feature of China’s Great Leap Famine is that political radicalism varied enormously across provinces. Using excessive grain procurement as a pertinent measure, we find that such variations were patterned systematically on the political career incentives of Communist Party officials rather than the conventionally assumed ideology or personal idiosyncrasies. Political rank alone can explain 16.83% of the excess death rate: the excess procurement ratio of provinces governed by alternate members of the Central Committee was about 3% higher than in provinces governed by full members, or there was an approximate 1.11‰ increase in the excess death rate. The stronger career incentives of alternate members can be explained by the distinctly greater privileges, status, and power conferred only on the rank of full members of the Central Committee and the “entry barriers” to the Politburo that full members faced.

Keywords: Career Incentives, Nomenklatura, Political Radicalism, Great Leap Famine, China

Suggested Citation

Chen, Shuo and Kung, James Kai-Sing, Tragedy of the Nomenklatura: Career Incentives and Political Radicalism during China's Great Leap Famine (July 8, 2010). American Political Science Review, Vol. 105, No. 1, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2102279

Shuo Chen (Contact Author)

Fudan University - Department of Economics ( email )

600 GuoQuan Road
Yangpu District
Shanghai, 200433
China

James Kai-Sing Kung

Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

Clearwater Bay
Kowloon, 999999
Hong Kong

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