Do elected leaders in a limited democracy have real power? Evidence from rural China Academic Article uri icon


  • Do elected leaders in an authoritarian regime have any real power? Does grassroots democracy in a one-party state entail parochial problems? Making use of primary survey data covering two election cycles in a mountainous area of China, where an administrative village consists of several natural villages (NVs), we find that elected village heads favor their home NVs in resource allocations, especially when these NVs have a large population. In contrast, the home NVs of appointed Communist Party secretaries do not receive disproportionately more resources, on average. This pattern of resource allocation is compatible with the interest of village heads and suggests that as elected leaders, village heads have some true power in resource distribution. 2013 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Mu, R., & Zhang, X.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Mu, Ren||Zhang, Xiaobo

publication date

  • March 2014