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Institutionalized Authoritarianism: Political Incentives, Land Resources, and Development Outcomes in China

Chang, Qing (2024) Institutionalized Authoritarianism: Political Incentives, Land Resources, and Development Outcomes in China. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation investigates the political and economic impacts of institutionalized political selection within authoritarian regimes. Contrary to prevailing theories that suggest meritocratic promotion within party systems contributes to regime stability and economic performance, this dissertation indicates that such promotion rules can reduce regime stability and hinder long-term economic growth. I focus on the performance-based promotion rules in the Chinese political system and argue that the career incentives for politicians lead to violations of non-elite property rights, intensifying conflicts between governments and citizens, and undermining regime stability. Additionally, the state's monopoly on economic resources leads to collusion among ruling elites, encouraging rent-seeking behaviors. Moreover, institutionalized promotions prompt lower-ranking officials to misallocate resources in ways that favor their career advancement, thereby impeding the potential for economic growth. By analyzing 600,000 residential land transactions and the career records of local officials from China, I demonstrate that local party secretaries with strong career incentives often manipulate land prices. Using causal mediation analysis with survey and protest data, I illustrate how career-motivated politicians drive increased collective actions, with interventions in land pricing acting as a mechanism. Furthermore, by examining politically connected firms' land transactions, I reveal rent-seeking engagements between government officials and firms, and demonstrate how local officials strategically select auction methods to benefit connected firms. Finally, I develop a formal model within a principal-agent framework to demonstrate an ``amplifying effect," wherein the political incentives of principals exacerbate resource misallocation among subordinates, hindering long-term economic growth potential. Overall, this dissertation challenges the notion that meritocratic promotion of party cadres in authoritarian regimes enhances regime stability and economic performance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chang, Qingqic47@pitt.eduqic47
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairAklin, Michaë
Committee CoChairDing,
Committee MemberGoplerud,
Committee MemberManion,
Date: 13 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 March 2024
Approval Date: 13 May 2024
Submission Date: 6 March 2024
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 157
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Economy of Development, China, Promotion incentives
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 13:46
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 13:46


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