Sources of Authoritarian Responsiveness: A Field Experiment in China

American Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming)

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-11

43 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014 Last revised: 18 Dec 2016

See all articles by Jidong Chen

Jidong Chen

Tsinghua University - School of Public Policy and Management

Jennifer Pan

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Yiqing Xu

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 28, 2015

Abstract

A growing body of research suggests that authoritarian regimes are responsive to societal actors, but our understanding of the sources of authoritarian responsiveness remains limited because of the challenges of measurement and causal identification. By conducting an online field experiment among 2,103 Chinese counties, we examine factors that affect officials' incentives to respond to citizens in an authoritarian context. At baseline, we find that approximately one third of county governments respond to citizen demands expressed online. Threats of collective action and threats of tattling to upper levels of government cause county governments to be considerably more responsive, while identifying as loyal, long-standing members of the Chinese Communist Party does not increase responsiveness. Moreover, we find that threats of collective action make local officials more publicly responsive. Together these results demonstrate that top-down mechanisms of oversight as well as bottom-up societal pressures are possible sources of authoritarian responsiveness.

Keywords: authoritarian rule, accountability, responsiveness, field experiment

Suggested Citation

Chen, Jidong and Pan, Jennifer and Xu, Yiqing, Sources of Authoritarian Responsiveness: A Field Experiment in China (April 28, 2015). American Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming); MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2479953 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2479953

Jidong Chen (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Jennifer Pan

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Byerly Hall
8 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yiqing Xu

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

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://yiqingxu.org

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