DP10515 Making Democracy Work: Culture, Social Capital and Elections in China

Author(s): Gerard Padró i Miquel, Nancy Qian, Yiqing Xu, Yang Yao
Publication Date: March 2015
Keyword(s): Civic Capital, History, Institutions, Public Goods, Trust
JEL(s): H41, P16
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10515

This paper aims to show that culture is an important determinant of the effectiveness of formal democratic institutions, such as elections. We collect new data to document the presence of voluntary and social organizations and the history of electoral reforms in Chinese villages. We use the presence of village temples to proxy for culture, or more specifically, for social (civic) capital and show that their presence greatly enhances the increase in public goods due to the introduction of elections. These results support the view that social capital complements democratic institutions such as elections.