China, India and Beyond

China, India and Beyond

Development Drivers and Limitations

Global Development Network series

Edited by Natalia Dinello and Shaoguang Wang

China, India and Beyond challenges the widespread belief that China and India will be the driving forces of the global economy in the 21st century. Scholars of these two countries offer scenarios ranging from buoyant to subdued to negative, depending on how they evaluate the drivers of development (market-oriented reforms, global integration and investment in human capital), and its limitations (infrastructure bottlenecks, environmental degradation and institutional frailties). The book covers a broad set of topics, including international trade and investment, health care and grassroots democracy. Readers from all countries will benefit from this cogent analysis of the delicate balance among various ingredients of successful development versus failure.

Chapter 10: Grassroots Democracy, Accountability and Income Distribution: Evidence from Rural China

Yan Shen and Yang Yao

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, development economics, economics and finance, development economics

Extract

Yan Shen and Yang Yao After the commune system was dissolved in the early 1980s, the state introduced village elections in rural China to enhance village governance. In 1987 the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed a preliminary version of the Organic Law of Village Committee (OLVC), launching a ten-year experiment with village elections. In 1998 the NPC formally passed the final version of the law, and elections quickly spread to the whole country. However, since the first elections began in the mid-1980s, there has been controversy about their impact on daily life in Chinese villages. The elections hardly take place in a friendly institutional environment. Within the village, the authority of the elected village committee is seriously constrained, if not superseded, by the Communist Party committee; outside the village, the township and county governments still maintain a heavy hand in village affairs. As a result, even if the elected village committee is willing to advance the interests of the villagers, it may not be able to do so. On the other hand, the decentralized nature of the elections may make it easier for local elites to capture local politics; in practice, democracy does not necessarily lead to a fairer provision of public goods (Bardhan and Mookherjee 2005). There is evidence that business elites have begun to dominate the local elections in some villages (Liu, Wang and Yao 2001). In addition, lineage influences political alignments in many village elections, and people worry that bias could distort the effects of the election....

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