Career Incentives of Local Leaders and Crisis Response: A Case Study of COVID-19 Lockdowns in China
38 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2020 Last revised: 5 Jan 2022
Date Written: August 11, 2020
This paper studies the role of local Chinese leaders’ career incentives in decisions regarding large-scale crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Most local leaders were reluctant to impose lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, because their promotions rely on posting strong numbers for economic growth in their region, while lockdowns can suppress growth. Once the nation’s top leader warned that local leaders who failed to control the disease would be removed from office, many rapidly implemented resolute measures. However, we find that local leaders with larger promotion incentives were still more likely to downplay the virus by avoiding or minimizing lockdowns.
Keywords: COVID-19, Local Government, Career Concern, Lockdown
JEL Classification: D73, H11, P26
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