East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Oct 8 Workshop


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society Presents

Plural Interests, Political Affiliation and Parochial Identity: Explaining Popular Approval of Local Governments in China

Junyan Jiang

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Political Science

University of Chicago


4:30-6pm, Tuesday

Oct 8, 2013

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


Compared to how much we know about public opinion in democracies, very little is known about how governments are viewed and evaluated by citizens in authoritarian regimes. We develop an integrated model to explain popular approval of local governments in China based on three key factors: economic performance, political affiliation and leadership characteristics. We test our hypotheses against so far the largest dataset on Chinese local public opinion using a multilevel regression method. Our analysis yields three main findings: First, we find that expression of political preferences is heavily conditioned on socioeconomic status. High income group and urban residents display radically different preferences from the poor and the rural with respect to both investment and fiscal expansion. These disagreements interact with distinct policy portfolios of local governments to produce diverging performance evaluations. Second, political affiliation has an important but nonlinear effect on performance evaluation. While Party members and government-sector employees tend to be more supportive, public-sector employees give the lowest evaluations in the sample. Finally, in the absence of explicit partisan cues or other political cleavages, local leaders’ demographic attributes serves as a powerful cue when citizens are making evaluations.  Governments headed by local natives tend to receive much higher rating than those headed by outsiders, and female citizens show greater support in localities headed by female leaders.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Junyan Jiang (junyanjiang@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song

This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Center for East Asian Studies, and the Confucius Institute. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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