How Do the Affluent Influence Authoritarian Responsiveness? Theory and Evidence from Urban China

58 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2022 Last revised: 2 Nov 2023

See all articles by Jiawei Fu

Jiawei Fu

New York University (NYU) - New York University

Zeren Li

National University of Singapore

Haibing Yan

East China University of Political Science and Law

Date Written: October 23, 2023

Abstract

While scholarship on advanced democracies has documented a prevailing unequal political responsiveness driven by the affluent's influence through electoral mechanisms, we still know little about the existence and magnitude of such bias in authoritarian countries that lack competitive elections. This paper shows an implicit privilege of the wealthy in an authoritarian context. Matching unique administrative data on municipal service records with apartment complex-level housing prices in downtown Shanghai, we demonstrate that the local government resolves cases more swiftly for residents living in pricier areas. To understand the mechanism, we conducted semistructured interviews and proposed a simple model illustrating that the implicit bias arises from the unique incentives facing bureaucrats and political leaders under authoritarian rule. We also provide evidence that excludes several alternative explanations, including issue heterogeneity, verbal signals, and local funding discrepancies.

Keywords: Government Responsiveness, Bureaucracy, Duality, Housing Price, Authoritarianism, China

Suggested Citation

Fu, Jiawei and Li, Zeren and Yan, Haibing, How Do the Affluent Influence Authoritarian Responsiveness? Theory and Evidence from Urban China (October 23, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4253200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4253200

Jiawei Fu

New York University (NYU) - New York University

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Zeren Li (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore ( email )

Singapore, 129791
Singapore

Haibing Yan

East China University of Political Science and Law ( email )

Shanghai
China

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