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Race to safety: Political competition, neighborhood effects, and coal mine deaths in China

Xiangyu Shi and Tianyang Xi

Journal of Development Economics, 2018, vol. 131, issue C, 79-95

Abstract: When political agents are subject to centralized performance evaluation, their efforts and performances tend to be correlated with one another in the “neighborhood”. Using quarterly data from prefecture-level cities in China, this paper finds evidence of positive neighborhood effects on coal mine deaths: the number of accidental deaths in a city is positively associated with those in its political neighbors. The neighborhood effects are confined by provincial borders, but do not diminish as the geographic scope of the neighborhood increases. Moreover, the effects are amplified by regulatory reforms and political cycles that increase the salience of coal mine safety. The findings of neighborhood effects on coal mine deaths are consistent with the logic of relative performance evaluation (RPE) as a mechanism for shaping policy outcomes.

Keywords: Neighborhood effect; Coal mine death; Relative performance evaluation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D73 H77 L51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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