Can Clientelism Subvert Authoritarianism? Evidence from China's Housing Market
26 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2014
Date Written: 2014
This article challenges a popular argument in authoritarian politics that informal institutions often undermine formal institutions. We show that the state bureaucracy is able to penetrate layers of connections built by firms that aim at capturing the state and seeking rents from an imperfect market. We test this by compiling and analyzing a large, original, and panel dataset of 150 Chinese listed real estate firms from 2003 to 2012 matched with 90 real estate policies. Event studies show that political connections are largely ineffective in resisting the impact of the policies implemented by high-authority state organizations. Policies enforced by strong state bureaucracies produced a significant cumulative abnormal return of -0.016% around the 5 days of the announcement of the policy. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we find a universal effect of strong state policies on firm values regardless of political connectedness.
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