Street-Level Responsiveness of City Governments in China, Germany, and the United States

28 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2021 Last revised: 13 Jun 2022

See all articles by Ekkehard A. Koehler

Ekkehard A. Koehler

University of Siegen - Department of Economics; Walter Eucken Institute; University of Freiburg - College of Economics and Behavioral Sciences

John G. Matsusaka

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business; USC Gould School of Law

Yanhui Wu

University of Hong Kong; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 12, 2022

Abstract

This paper presents evidence from parallel field experiments in China, Germany, and the United States. We contacted the mayor’s office in over 6,000 cities asking for information about procedures for starting a new business. Chinese and German cities responded to 36-37 percent of requests. American cities responded only to 22 percent of requests. American and German cities were more responsive to requests from citizens than foreigners; Chinese cities did not discriminate on this basis. Chinese cities were more responsive to requests from men than women; German and American cities did not show such a bias. Chinese cities were more responsive to requests associated with starting a construction business than a green business. Chinese cities were more responsive when the mayor was being considered for promotion. We discuss the implications for bureaucratic responsiveness in autocracies and democracies and for top-down versus bottom-up policy making.

Keywords: Responsiveness, bureaucracy, democracy, autocracy, environment, discrimination, China, Germany

JEL Classification: H7, H83, O38, P5, R5

Suggested Citation

Koehler, Ekkehard A. and Matsusaka, John G. and Wu, Yanhui, Street-Level Responsiveness of City Governments in China, Germany, and the United States (June 12, 2022). USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS21-46, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 21-46, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3907862 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3907862

Ekkehard A. Koehler

University of Siegen - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Hoelderlinstr. 3
Siegen, 57068
Germany

Walter Eucken Institute ( email )

Goethestrasse 10
Freiburg, 79100
Germany

University of Freiburg - College of Economics and Behavioral Sciences ( email )

Freiburg, D-79085
Germany

John G. Matsusaka (Contact Author)

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

Department of Finance & Business Economics
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)
213-740-6650 (Fax)

USC Gould School of Law

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)

Yanhui Wu

University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong
China

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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