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Incentivizing State Employees to Confront Rural Poverty

Institutions & Governance China

Since 2015, the Chinese government has selected thousands of prominent upper-level state employees to serve as “First Party Secretaries (FPSs)” for three years in poor villages, with the hope that they may help alleviate poverty and improve rural governance. By linking the FPSs’ contributions to village development with their future promotion within the system, the government provides strong career incentives for these individuals to support development work. However, the original employers of FPSs–who are located far away–are not provided credible quantitative measures of performance, which could severely distort the incentive structure of the FPSs and undermine rural development. This project utilizes a simple intervention to incentivize the FPSs to contribute more to development by reducing these information gaps. Researchers compute objective measures of FPS contribution based on existing village panel surveys, then notify randomly selected FPFs that these quantitative performance measures will be provided to the government. Data will come from a comprehensive village panel survey conducted by the Social Policy Research Center (SPRC) associated with the Ministry of Civil Affairs in China. Results forthcoming.

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