Within-Party Mobility and Economic Performance in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from China
24 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2022 Last revised: 23 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 22, 2022
This study analyses a mechanism to explain how internal mobility in the dominant party enhances economic performance. We argue that authoritarian leaders incentivize their political agents to advance economic development by using age-based promotion and retirement rules. We empirically examine our theoretical claim using China’s cadre rejuvenation policy, which rewards younger leaders with more opportunities for career advancement. Drawing on panel data for prefectural party secretaries who were in office at some point between 2000 and 2012, we show that the principle of youthful rejuvenation leads the Party to grant more promotions to party leaders who enter office at a younger age than to their older counterparts. Under such an incentive scheme, the regions served by younger entrants into the officialdom have better economic performance than those served by older entrants, holding ability and other regional characteristics constant.
Keywords: party mobility, single-party regime, economic performance
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