Rotating to the Top: How Career Tracks Matter in the Chinese Communist Party
55 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2020
Date Written: August 31, 2018
This paper takes a novel perspective on the selection of leaders in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by focusing on career tracks of high-level CCP officials. Career tracks are defined as clusters of similar career trajectories with respect to both vertical and horizontal movements. We measure career tracks of full and alternate CCP Central Committee members from 1982 to 2017 using machine learning techniques and investigate their role in political selection. We find that the career tracks corresponding to high starting positions and frequent rotations are associated with significantly higher probabilities of obtaining top leadership positions in the CCP despite the influence of patronage networks. Moreover, when comparing the relative importance of career tracks and personal connections over time, we find suggestive evidence that the Chinese political system has become more personalistic in the past few years.
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