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Fiscal Reform and the Economic Foundations of Local State Corporatism in China

Journal Articles
22021 small AA

In the 1980s fiscal reform in China provided localities with strong incentives and a heightened capacity to pursue industrial growth. As a result, local governments have responded vigorously to economic reform, managing rural collective-owned enterprises as diversified corporations, with local officials performing the role of a board of directors. This article analyzes the incentives that have led to the development of this form of local state corporatism and rapid rural industrialization, and it describes the ways in which local governments coordinate economic activity and reallocate revenues from industrial production. These developments are important for two reasons: they show that local government involvement in the economy does not necessarily decline with the expansion of market coordination; and they offer a successful model of reform that serves as a counterpoint to privatization proposals.

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