Political Economy and Governance
Political Economy and Governance
The appearance of a strong, monolithic Chinese state belies considerable variation in economic, cultural, and governance practice across localities, i.e., administrative jurisdictions and regions. These variations create tensions in uneven development that may exert significant impacts on political processes and regime stability, and are also sources of innovation and institutional changes. The political economy of locality sheds light on the sub-national dynamics in local governance, civil society, and the role of local bureaucratic networks and social institutions in economic development. To understand how the Chinese economy functions and evolves, we need to understand how the political economy, in general, and the political economy of locality – the interaction of politics, economy and society – works across localities, how government policies are implemented and derailed at local levels, how local initiatives take place or are suppressed, and how local bureaucrats and citizens respond to top-down mobilization. Our research is organized around two sets of activities: a.) the collection and analysis of micro-level data to systematically examine variations across localities at the intersection of politics and economy; b.) collaboration with local researchers to gain insights into behavioral patterns in local response to government policies and initiatives.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the policy and trends in rural education in China over the past 40 years; and also discuss a number of challenges that are faced by China’s rural school system.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors use secondary data on policies and trends over the past 40 years for preschool, primary/junior high school, and high school.
The purpose of this paper is to describe the trends in residential solid waste collection (RSWC) services in rural China over the past decade and analyze the determinants of these services using nationally representative data.
Purpose: The need for a universal rural pension system has been heightened by demographic changes in rural China, including the rapid aging of the nation’s rural population and a dramatic decline in fertility. In response to these changes, China’s Government introduced the New Rural Social Pension Program (NRSPP) in 2009, a voluntary and highly subsidized pension scheme. The purpose of this paper is to assess the participation of rural farmers in the NRSPP. Furthermore, the authors examine whether the NRSPP affects the labor supply of the elderly population in China.
To Board or Not to Board: Evidence from Nutrition, Health and Education Outcomes of Students in Rural China
The debate over whether boarding school is beneﬁcial for students still exists in both developing and developed countries. In rural China, as a result of a national school merger program that began in 2001, the number of boarding students has increased dramatically. Little research has been done, however, to measure how boarding status may be correlated with nutrition, health and educational outcomes. In this paper, we compare the outcomes of boarding to those of non-boarding students using a large, aggregate dataset that includes 59 rural counties across ﬁve provinces in China. We ﬁ nd that for all outcomes boarding students perform worse than non-boarding students. Despite these differences, the absolute levels of all outcomes are low for both boarding and non-boarding students, indicating a need for new policies that will target all rural students regardless of their boarding status.
China's agricultural sector faces challenges because most farms are still small scale. China's policy is to encourage the consolidation of farms and promote farms that are larger in scale. A question that arises is: Are China's farms growing? The goal of the present paper is to determine whether large farms in China have emerged or if farms remain small. To meet this goal, we systematically document the trends in the operational sizes of China's farms and measure the determinants of changes in farm size. Using a nationally representative dataset, the study shows that in 2013 China's farming sector was still mostly characterized by small-scale farms. However, at the same time, there is an emerging class of middle-sized and larger-sized farms. Most large farms are being run by households but there is a set of large farms that are company/cooperative-run. Today, farmers on larger farms are younger and better educated than the average farmer.
Nearly nine years following the release of the Center for Global Development’s When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation report, and almost a decade into increased focus on evaluation among global donors, many in the research community are reflecting on the state of the impact evaluation field, whether the development community is learning what was hoped to from impact evaluations and where the future of impact evaluation leads.
As part of this reflection, in this paper we will explore the recent past, current status and future of impact evaluation of development interventions.
The Role of Agriculture in China's Development: Performance, policy determinants of success, and lessons for Africa
The lost decades for China in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s look remarkably like the lost decades of Africa in the 1980s an 1990s. Poor land rights, weak incentives, incomplete markets and inappropriate investment portfolios. However, China burst out of its stagnation in the 1980s and has enjoyed three decades of remarkable growth. In this paper we examine the record of the development of China's food economy and identify the policies that helped generate the growth and transformation of agriculture. Incentives, markets and strategic investments by the state were key.
Evidence on the Impact of Sustained Exposure to Air Pollution on Life Expectancy from China's Hua River Policy
The rapid expansion of enrollment capacity in China’s colleges since the late 1990s has come at the price of high tuition hikes. China’s government has put forth financial aid programs to enable poor students to access higher education. Although studies have shown that poor high school students are indeed able to attend college when their test scores are high enough (that is, few are unable to attend when they are qualified to attend), the literature has not explored whether poor students have sufficient amounts of aid to thrive in college.
When seeking to build high quality and cost-effective infrastructure in rural villages, a fundamental question is: Who is better at doing so? Should the village leadership or a government agency above the village finance and/or manage the construction of the infrastructure project? To answer this question, we surveyed all rural road projects in 101 villages in rural China between 2003 and 2007 and measured the quality and per kilometer cost of each road. According to our analysis, road quality was higher when more of the project funds came from the government agency above.
In contrast to its decentralized political economy model of the 1980s, China took a surprising turn towards recentralization in the mid-1990s. Its fiscal centralization, starting with the 1994 tax reforms, is well known, but political recentralization also has been under way to control cadres directly at township and village levels. Little-noticed measures designed to tighten administrative and fiscal regulation began to be implemented during approximately the same period in the mid-1990s. Over time these measures have succeeded in hollowing out the power of village and township cadres.