The Logic of Authoritarian Political Selection: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment in China

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Authors Hanzhang Liu
Paper Category
Paper Abstract In the absence of democratic elections, incumbent leaders in authoritarian regimes are directly responsible for political selection. Although selection outcomes are often observed, it is difficult to fully decipher its logic due to incumbent leaders' multidimensional preference. Employing a conjoint survey experiment conducted among local government officials in China, this paper seeks to unpack the multidimensionality in recruitment of new political elites with a focus on individual competence, loyalty to the regime, and political connections. I find that while competence and loyalty are both important factors, kinship ties to government increase a candidate's probability of selection by over 20%, even though the candidate is not deemed more competent or loyal. The findings show that elements of meritocracy and nepotism coexist in political recruitment in contemporary China. The large effect magnitude of political connections on entry-level political selection has profound implications for state capacity and inter-generational political mobility.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R

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