East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Nov 5 Workshop


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society Presents

Authoritarian Resilience Under Crisis: Geography and Redistribution in China

Jeremy Wallace

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Ohio State University


4:30-6pm, Tuesday

November 5, 2013

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.


How do authoritarian regimes survive economic crises? Contrary to modernization theory, analyses show that economic growth aids regime survival, while regimes are much more likely to end during crises. While different types of nondemocratic regimes and institutions account for much of the variation in regime survival, the policies that shape the political economy of these regimes have received less attention. Why did the global financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession not generate the political instability in China that many predicted? I argue that China’s success in weathering the storm was partly due to its long-term strategy of managed urbanization and migration paired with a short-term economic stimulus. These factors combined to structure, disperse, and reduce discontent generated by the Great Recession. Fearing instability and unrest among newly unemployed migrant workers along the coast, the regime sought to encourage employment in the interior. Along with continued collective ownership of land in the countryside and the hukou system, the fiscal stimulus facilitated stability by providing channels for those negatively affected by the crisis to return to the countryside and smaller cities in the interior, dispersing discontent. While the fiscal stimulus continued the regime’s pro-rural, pro-interior development policy, at the height of the crisis, the regime also vastly expanded loans to urban industries in contrast to its general move away from urban bias. The analysis demonstrates the utility of in-depth investigation of the threats that regimes face and their policy responses to those threats.

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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