The Political Pollution Cycle

Shen, Shiran Victoria. "The Political Pollution Cycle: An Inconvenient Truth and How to Break It" PhD diss., Stanford University, 2018. Citation URL: https://purl.stanford.edu/nz069yb9602.

31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016 Last revised: 12 Aug 2020

Date Written: November 25, 2014

Abstract

How do incentives shape political behavior? I show that local political leaders are incentivized to implement policies to varying degrees over time based on what they perceive to maximize the career payoffs for their efforts. Studying the critical case of air pollution control policies in China, I advance a theory of the political pollution cycle to fathom the effect of political incentives on local policy implementation over time. Using remote sensing, box modeling, observational data, and qualitative field research, I find that during 2000 and 2010, top prefectural leaders in China gradually ordered laxer regulation of pollution during their tenure so that the delivery of political achievements would bode well for their career advancement. Such an effect is stronger when the leaders did not have connections with their political superiors. Regulatory forbearance, rather than economic growth, explains the phenomenon, which unintentionally incurred tremendous human costs.

Keywords: comparative political economy, regulation, public policy, environmental governance, China

JEL Classification: N50, O44, P48

Suggested Citation

Shen, Shiran Victoria, The Political Pollution Cycle (November 25, 2014). Shen, Shiran Victoria. "The Political Pollution Cycle: An Inconvenient Truth and How to Break It" PhD diss., Stanford University, 2018. Citation URL: https://purl.stanford.edu/nz069yb9602., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2822922

Shiran Victoria Shen (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://svshen.com

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