What Motivates Non-Democratic Leadership: Evidence from COVID-19 Reopenings in China

20 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2020

See all articles by Raymond J. Fisman

Raymond J. Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Boston University

Hui Lin

Nanjing University

Cong Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Yongxiang Wang

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Daxuan Zhao

Renmin University of China - School of Business

Date Written: July 7, 2020

Abstract

Abstract We examine Chinese cities' COVID-19 reopening plans as a window into governments' economic and social priorities. Early reopenings are predicted by citizen discontent, as captured by Baidu searches for terms such as “unemployment” and “protest” in the prior week. Taking a longer view, early reopening occurs in cities with more strikes or other collective actions during 2017-2019. These results indicate that non-democracies may respond to citizen concerns, possibly to minimize dissent. Finally, early reopening occurs in cities with high debt repayments due in 2020, indicating a responsiveness to local fiscal conditions which may, in turn, affect city leaders' promotion prospects.

Keywords: Bureaucratic incentives, unrest, non-democracy, China, COVID-19

JEL Classification: D73; P26

Suggested Citation

Fisman, Raymond and Lin, Hui and Sun, Cong and Wang, Yongxiang and Zhao, Daxuan, What Motivates Non-Democratic Leadership: Evidence from COVID-19 Reopenings in China (July 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3666942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3666942

Raymond Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Hui Lin

Nanjing University

Nanjing, Jiangsu 210093
China

Cong Sun

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

777 Guoding Road
Shanghai, AK Shanghai 200433
China

Yongxiang Wang (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Daxuan Zhao

Renmin University of China - School of Business ( email )

Beijing
China

HOME PAGE: http://daxuanzhao.weebly.com/

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