Judicial Recentralization as Political Control: A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of Judicial Leader Rotation in China
42 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021 Last revised: 14 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 12, 2022
This study analyzes how authoritarian leaders use the judicial system to solve the principal--agent problem in the government hierarchy. We argue that autocrats recentralize court personnel to enhance the central government's monitoring power over local officials. Our empirical analysis takes advantage of a judicial personnel rotation reform in which the Chinese Communist Party recentralized court personnel by rotating provincial-level court leaders in seventeen out of thirty one provinces. Panel data analysis shows that judicial recentralization increased adjudicated administrative lawsuits by nearly 30 percent. We also demonstrate that the enhancement in judicial responsiveness is not driven by alternative channels such as learning or the substitution between different ways of petitions.
Keywords: Judicial Recentralization, Job Rotation, Administrative Lawsuit, Judicial Responsiveness, China
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