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The limits of meritocracy: Screening bureaucrats under imperfect verifiability

Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato (), Xiao Yu Wang and Shuang Zhang

Journal of Development Economics, 2019, vol. 140, issue C, 223-241

Abstract: Does bureaucratic ability predict promotion in governments? We show that self-reported performance in enforcing the One Child Policy predicts mayoral promotion in China. However, misreporting handicaps screening—a non-manipulated performance measure does not predict promotion. We show that this is consistent with a model where a government has a meritocratic objective but underestimates the imperfect verifiability of performance, rather than a model where a government is only interested in the illusion of meritocracy. Thus, despite meritocratic intentions, we challenge the notion that a successful promotion system effectively substituted for democratic institutions in explaining Chinese growth.

Keywords: D23; D73; D86; M12; M51; O12; O15; O53; P23; P26; P48 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: The Limits of Meritocracy: Screening Bureaucrats Under Imperfect Verifiability (2016) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:deveco:v:140:y:2019:i:c:p:223-241

DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.06.003

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