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Bureaucrat incentives and the conversion of rural land in China

Institutions & Governance China

Bureaucrats play a crucial role in enforcing government policy for social welfare, thus it is important to study their incentives. In China, the bureaucracy regulates most economic activities, including large questions of land use and air pollution. This study examines bureaucratic incentives for local policies by measuring whether a promoted bureaucrat would enact policies in the interest of the person who appointed them. Specifically, it tests whether more rural land conversion occurs when heads of the Bureau of Land and Resources (BLR) work in alliance with the provisional Party Secretary (PS) who appointed them. In this case, the bureau is less independent from the provincial government. Outlining the personal relations between the provisional PS and the BLR head, researchers find that there is more loss in farmland in years where the PS worked with the bureaucrat that he appointed. However, the study finds no changes in the behavior of environmental protection bureaucrats.

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