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“Subnational Ruling Party Institutionalization and Its Mitigation Effects on Corruption: A Case Study of China” by Rosemary Pang

December 9, 2020 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

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Author: Rosemary Pang (Pennsylvania State University)

Abstract: Why does corruption spur de-stabilizing political protests in some autocracies but not others? This paper argues that autocratic party institutionalization limits the potential destabilizing consequences of corruption via three potential mechanisms: first, party institutionalization has more precise rules that regularize the interaction between citizens and bureaucrats, which makes corruption more predictable and reduces anti-government grievance; second, party institutionalization broadens the group of citizens who benefit economically from corruption; and, finally, the party channels citizens’ dissent into party-led policy changes. This paper ex- amines how subnational party institutionalization influences corruption’s impact on protests in China using a novel, subnational measure of government anti-corruption effort developed from Chinese-language news sources. The findings show that provincial-level party institutionalization mitigates the effect of corruption, thus insuring local stability. Provincial panel data analysis indicates that two mechanisms – sharing the economic benefits of corruption and channeling dissent via petitions – better explain how party institutionalization mitigates the destabilizing effect of protest than regularizing contact between citizens and bureaucrats.

Discussants: Jay C. Kao (Texas) and Andrew Wedeman (Georgia State).

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