Last year, the National Bureau of Economic Research published an interesting working paper1 on the possible correlation between local government officials’ promotion and environmental policies.
Since environment has become a key issue on China’s national agenda, this question needs to be addressed as a priority at the local government level. However, it seems that local officials who are most active in environmental issues are not the ones who are most promoted.
In this paper, the authors2 introduce the merit-based promotion system of Chinese officials and its expected effects on inter-provincial competition. They also point out that China’s fiscal system heavily relies on local governments to finance social welfare and the construction of infrastructure.
According to the authors, local officials are keen to develop the territories they are in charge of, by investing in transport and obtaining high GDP rates, so they can be promoted more quickly.
This paper also highlights the correlation between the improvement of transport infrastructures and land prices, and the impact of land prices on local officials’ career.
The research shows that improving environmental standards has no impact on the careers of local government officials. Achieving strong economic growth still remains the main priority for local officials who wish to get a promotion.
The authors suggest a reform of China’s merit-based system by including the environmental dimension in the officers’ promotion process.
- Wu, J. et al (2013, February). Incentives and outcomes: China’s environmental policy. NBeR Working paper Seies 18403. National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved 26 January, 2014 from http://www.ires.nus.edu.sg/workingpapers/IRES2013-004.pdf
- Wu Jing, Deng Yongheng, Huang Jun, Morck Randall and Yeung Bernard