• This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pinghan Liang (Sun Yat-Sen University) - Winter Is Coming: Early-life Experiences and Politicians’ Decisions

Pinghan Liang (Sun Yat-Sen University) - Winter Is Coming: Early-life Experiences and Politicians’ Decisions

Date and Time: November 8th, 2019, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Room: A 101 in the Economics Building (Museum)

Abstract

This paper focuses on the role of local politicians’ early-life experiences in their policy decisions while in office. We take China’s Great Famine (1959–61) as a natural experiment and examine its impact on the fiscal decisions of County Party Secretaries (CPS) who experienced this famine in their early childhood. We construct a data set that matches the biographical information of 2,831 CPS with fiscal data of 1,715 counties during 1993–2007. The results indicate that if CPS experienced a 10% more severe famine during early childhood, other things being equal, they will increase fiscal expenditure on agriculture by 6.8% and social security by 10.6%. This famine experience also decreases agricultural tax by 38.8%. As a result, it leads to more grain production and agricultural employment. We further show that famine experience takes effect by forming the policy preference for agricultural development, rather than beliefs about future famine.