Does the Squeaky Wheel Get More Grease? The Direct and Indirect Effects of Citizen Participation on Environmental Governance in China

48 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2023 Last revised: 31 Aug 2023

See all articles by Mark Buntaine

Mark Buntaine

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Guojun He

The University of Hong Kong - University of Hong Kong

Mengdi Liu

University of International Business and Economics

Shaoda Wang

University of Chicago

Bing Zhang

Nanjing University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 29, 2023

Abstract

We conducted a nationwide field experiment in China to evaluate the direct and indirect impacts of assigning firms to public or private citizen appeals when they violate pollution standards. There are three main findings. First, public appeals to the regulator through social media substantially reduce violations and pollution emissions, while private appeals cause more modest environmental improvements. Second, public appeals appear to tilt regulators’ focus away from facilitating economic growth and toward avoiding pollution-induced public unrest. Third, pollution reductions by treated firms are not offset by control firms, based on randomly varying the proportion of treatment firms at the prefecture-level.

Keywords: citizen participation, social media, environmental governance

JEL Classification: Q52, P26, P28

Suggested Citation

Buntaine, Mark and Greenstone, Michael and He, Guojun and Liu, Mengdi and Wang, Shaoda and Zhang, Bing, Does the Squeaky Wheel Get More Grease? The Direct and Indirect Effects of Citizen Participation on Environmental Governance in China (August 29, 2023). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 135-2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4360348 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4360348

Mark Buntaine

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

South Hall 5504
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Guojun He

The University of Hong Kong - University of Hong Kong ( email )

Mengdi Liu

University of International Business and Economics ( email )

10 Huixindongjie, Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100029
China

Shaoda Wang

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Bing Zhang

Nanjing University ( email )

163 Xianlin Avenue
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210023
China

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