The Last Strike: Evaluating the Distortionary Effect of Career Incentives on Taxation in China

37 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2019 Last revised: 28 Jul 2019

See all articles by Arthur Yu

Arthur Yu

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Zeren Li

Duke University

Date Written: July 21, 2019

Abstract

This paper analyzes the distortionary effect of political career incentives on fiscal extraction. We argue that competitive promotion tournaments distort public officials’ career incentives, leading to excessive tax extraction efforts. We empirically estimate the magnitude of distortion by exploiting two institutional designs for political selection in China: the age threshold for promotion and regulated term limits. We find that a promotion tournament becomes more intense when prefectural party leaders enter their last promotion-eligible term (at 50-55 years old). Given fierce competition for career advancement, prefectural party leaders extract excessive fiscal revenue to demonstrate their competence, but they do not enhance economic performance or redistribution efforts.

Keywords: Career Incentive, Fiscal Extraction, Regression Discontinuity Design

Suggested Citation

Yu, Zeyang and Li, Zeren, The Last Strike: Evaluating the Distortionary Effect of Career Incentives on Taxation in China (July 21, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423451 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3423451

Zeyang Yu (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Zeren Li

Duke University ( email )

Durham, NC 27708
United States

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