Public Policy

Prudent Adventure: how does political status affect local government innovations?


  • Yuhao Wang Harvard-Yenching Institute & Harvard University


What are the concerns and motivations behind policy innovations? Theories claim that local policymakers carry out policy innovations mainly because of economic reasons or other internal concerns but seldomly notice the political structure they face. This study constructs a unique dataset of Chinese local government innovations during 2001-2016 and categorizes them with Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques. We then examine how economic factors affect policy innovations and how political status brings better explanations. In a centralized authoritarian state like China, local politicians concern political resources and risks more than economic development. We argue that local officials can take the adventure to make institutional rearrangements when enabled but ultimately have to be prudent when closely bonded with the center.


Thumbnail image of Yuhao_Wang_APSA_Annual_Meeting_2021.pdf


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