Three Essays on the Empirical Analysis of An Authoritarian Political Regime

Li, Yanjun (2019) Three Essays on the Empirical Analysis of An Authoritarian Political Regime, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Economics, 31 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/8891.
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This dissertation consists of three essays on the origins and the functioning of the authoritarian political regime in China. The first essay seeks to understand the historical determinants of political stability by investigating the role of deeply-rooted centralized bureaucracies in ancient China in shaping interactions between citizens and the state. The results show that past exposure to centralized empires significantly improves present-day political stability: one additional century in the timing of exposure leads to a 3.4% decrease in anti-government attacks and reduces anti-government protests by 6.6%. We find that the persistence of local institutions with their well-respected administration cannot fully explain the results, while nationalistic culture represents the main channel through which the impact of a long-gone institution persists. The second chapter shows that in a performance-based promotion mechanism that rewards short-term investments, Chinese prefecture leaders make different policy decisions based on the local competition level within a career-concerns model. After exploring various mechanisms and examining variation in the sudden death of competitors as an instrumental variable used for identification, the evidence gathered suggests that local officials spend more and prioritize short-term over long-term investments when they have fewer potential competitors, translating to a higher probability of being promoted. The third chapter extends the discussion in the second essay and examines how political competition, along with positive economic spillovers of public provisions, affect the spatial distribution of public inputs and economic outputs within jurisdictions. Using annual data from prefectures in China, we find evidence of an increased border effect on the nighttime luminosity in response to an additional effective political competitor in an adjacent jurisdiction. This occurs through politicians’ strategic allocation of public resources which are distributed away from the cross-jurisdictional boundaries when the concerns regarding spillovers raise.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Li, Yanjun
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Persistence; Centralization; Historical empires; Culture; Political stability; Political competition; Tournament; Public expenditures; Spillovers; Spatial distribution; Border effect; China; Chinese economy.
Data di discussione
19 Marzo 2019

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