DP9523 | Complementary Roles of Connections and Performance in Political Selection in China

Publication Date

23/06/2013

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Abstract

Who becomes a top politician in China? We focus on provincial leaders, a pool of candidates for top political office, and examine how their chance of being promoted depends on performance - measured by provincial economic growth - and connections with top politicians - measured by past joint work in the same branch of government. A simple theoretical framework suggests that performance and connections may interact, an aspect ignored in the previous literature. Over the period 1993-2009, we find a positive correlation between promotion and growth that is robustly stronger for connected provincial leaders than for unconnected ones. This evidence indicates that performance and connections are complements in the Chinese political selection process. Auxiliary evidence suggests that the documented promotion pattern does not distort the allocation of talent.