Jonghyuk Lee

Chinese Politics; Elite Politics; Comparative Political Economy; Authoritarian Distribution

Dissertation Title: Collective Career Incentives and Resource Allocation in China

Description: This project studies the effect of career incentives on resource allocation in Chinese provinces and aims to answer two questions: Who are local leaders that best respond to career incentives? How do they affect resource allocation within the region? By using a unique dataset of provincial standing committee members from 1994 to 2013, this paper measures each member's career prospect as a predicted probability of political advancement. In the analysis, if a local leader's relative career prospect, compared to rivals, is not high enough to secure the next promotion or not too low to cause disqualification, the leader is designated as a career-incentivized leader. The leader has a strong incentive to pursue a certain policy choice that aggravates regional inequality in order to maximize the promotion probability. The empirical results demonstrate that Chinese provincial governments dominated by such career-incentivized leaders are likely to promote more investments and focus these investments into wealthier sub-regions, which provides more opportunities for rent-seeking. The motivation behind this choice is that career-incentivized leaders are concerned with impressing their political patrons by engaging in rent-seeking activities.

Committee: Victor C. Shih (Chair),  Susan L. Shirk, Barry J. Naughton, Stephan Haggard, Philip G. Roeder, Margaret E. Roberts