BREAD Working Paper No. 366, December 2012

Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China

Gerard Padro-i-Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yang Yao

Abstract

This study examines how the economic effects of elections in rural China depend on voter heterogeneity, for which we proxy with religious fractionalization. We first document religious composition and the introduction of village-level elections for a nearly nationally representative sample of over two hundred villages. Then, we examine the interaction effect of heterogeneity and the introduction of elections on village-government provision of public goods. The interaction effect is negative. We interpret this as evidence that voter heterogeneity constrains the potential benefits of elections for public goods provision.

Keywords: Fractionalization, Voter Heterogeneity, Democracy, Pre-Conditions, Religion

JEL classification codes: O1, P16, H4

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