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

59 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2014

See all articles by Ruixue Jia

Ruixue Jia

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Masayuki Kudamatsu

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES)

David Seim

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: July 20, 2014

Abstract

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 and connections with top politicians. Our empirical analysis, based on the curriculum vitae of Chinese politicians, shows that connections and performance are complements in the Chinese political selection process. This complementarity is stronger the younger provincial leaders are relative to their connected top leaders. To provide one plausible interpretation of these empirical findings, we propose a simple theory in which the complementarity arises because connections foster loyalty of junior officials to senior ones, thereby allowing incumbent top politicians to select competent provincial leaders without risking being ousted. Auxiliary evidence suggests that the documented promotion pattern does not distort the allocation of talent. Our findings shed some light on why a political system known for patronage can still select competent leaders.

Suggested Citation

Jia, Ruixue and Kudamatsu, Masayuki and Seim, David, Political Selection in China: The Complementary Roles of Connections and Performance (July 20, 2014). IFN Working Paper No. 1003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2468801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2468801

Ruixue Jia

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Masayuki Kudamatsu (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden

David Seim

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S3G7
Canada

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

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