Companion to the Political Economy of Rent Seeking
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Companion to the Political Economy of Rent Seeking

Edited by Roger D. Congleton and Arye L. Hillman

The quest for benefit from existing wealth or by seeking privileged benefit through influence over policy is known as rent seeking. Much rent seeking activity involves government and political decisions and is therefore in the domain of political economy, although it can also take place in personal relations and within firms and bureaucracies. Rent seeking, which involves the unproductive use of resources, is however primarily associated with policies that create rents as well as rent extraction or political benefit for the creators of rents. The contributions in this outstanding volume provide an accompaniment or “companion” to the literature on rent seeking and the related political economy of rent creation and extraction. The chapters, written by leading scholars in the field, demonstrate the centrality of rent-related incentives to the study of economics, politics, culture, public administration and history.
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Chapter 22: Economic development and corruption in China in the shadow of rent

Chen Kang and Liu Qijun

Extract

This chapter reviews the role of rents and rent seeking in China, where the transition from a planned economy and economic liberalization proceeded without political liberalization. In an initial phase of transition, markets and decentralization were introduced. Thereafter, a further phase of transition involved recentralization. Both phases created rents and led to rent seeking that was in general associated with corruption. We describe the sources of the rents and present case studies to suggest magnitudes of rents. We show that economic and political activity in Chinese transition cannot be adequately described without reference to rents and rent seeking.

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