Becoming Political Candidates in China: Elite University Network and Selectoral Advantage
53 Pages Posted: 7 May 2019 Last revised: 20 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 18, 2019
Whether a political system can attract high-quality candidates is key to producing high-quality politicians. In this article, we examine the issue of candidate pool formation in developing countries where elections are absent. We argue that a government can attract competent individuals to become candidates when it can provide them with a significant selectoral advantage. Exploiting a natural experiment in China, where universities adopt an arbitrary score cutoff to enroll students, we show that students attending top elite universities, which enjoy strong alumni networks in politics, are more likely to be interested in a political career than their peers in other universities. Analysis of an original online survey confirms that alumni networks serve as a causal mechanism by enhancing elite university students’ future prospect in political selection. Our study differs from existing research that focuses on the role of election in choosing the “good types” and shows that social networks can serve as an effective instrument to attract the best talents to work for the government.
Keywords: Political Selection, Nascent Political Ambition, Candidate Pool Formation, Natural Experiment, China
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