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Protest in China and Hong Kong
Friday, Jan. 7, 2022
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
Association for Comparative Economic Studies
London School of Economics
The Fundamental Determinants of Protest Participation: Evidence from Hong Kong’s Antiauthoritarian Movement
Which fundamental traits are associated with individuals’ participation in antiauthoritarian protests? How does this vary over the course of a movement experiencing both modest and massive protest events? We conduct a series of surveys eliciting university students’ participation
in Hong Kong’s antiauthoritarian movement, covering a period that included protests ranging from tens of thousands to over one million participants. We construct a comprehensive profile of fundamental economic preferences: risk and time preferences plausibly affecting an individual’s costs of protest participation; social preferences affecting the benefits. We also elicit other fundamental traits: personality; cognitive abilities; and, socioeconomic backgrounds. We document several facts about protest participants: (i) fundamental economic preferences, particularly risk tolerance and pro-social preferences, are the strongest predictors of protest participation; (ii) the strongest predictors are the same for modest and massive protests, with their effects larger for massive protests; (iii) participation in massive protests is not driven by marginal types, but rather by inframarginal types; (iv) both the distribution of fundamental preferences and their relationship with protest participation are very similar between university students and the broader population; and, (v) willingness to respond honestly to sensitive survey questions is high and stable over the entire sample period. Our findings suggest that economic preferences be considered alongside class background and personality as deeply determined traits driving protest participation. Moreover, they reveal that large protests (at least in Hong Kong) do not arise from convincing new types to participate (e.g., due to a change in perceived preferences), but rather arise from the even greater participation of risk tolerant, prosocial types.
Preferences for Government Concessions Amid Protests and Repression: Experimental Evidence from Hong Kong’s Anti-ELAB Movement and National Security Law
This study tries to leverage Hong Kong's recent Anti-ELAB (Extradition Law Amendment Bill) Movement and National Security Law (NSL) to test various critical theoretical propositions in the political economy literature by conducting two survey experiments right before and after the passage of the NSL. First of all, we provide a test of the Acemoglu-Robinson commitment problem thesis. Second, we also test a series of hypotheses from an information cascade model of protest developed by Kishishita, Takagi, and Tung (2019). First and foremost, (i) our experiments confirm that, given one’s knowledge of others’ rejections of a concession, an even more generous concession actually leads to a higher chance of its rejection, instead of acceptance, by him/her. Furthermore, (ii) we also confirm yet another counterintuitive hypothesis that, as the stake of the status quo goes up, it is less, instead of more, likely for people with an exit option to tap into the option. Third, (iii) we find that a higher level of punishment brought by the NSL led people with a high protest expectation to prefer the attribute with the highest level of concession in each reform category. The pattern is right the opposite in the group with a low protest expectation. Finally, for robustness, comparing the experimental results based on the newly KNN(K-Nearest Neighbor)-generated classification to the original ones shows no substantial differences that would overturn our aforementioned findings.
Citizen Participation, Bureaucratic Incentive, and Government Accountability: Evidence from 7 Million Citizen Appeals in Beijing
Since 2014, the Beijing government has been hosting an official hotline named “12345”, which receives citizen appeals regarding any local governance matter, such as public good provision, law enforcement, policy inquiry, and social assistance distribution. Each of Beijing’s 333 subdistricts is responsible for responding to citizen appeals within its jurisdiction, with citizen satisfaction explicitly linked to the promotion of the subdistrict officials. In 2018, the Beijing government launched an additional reform on a random half of its subdistricts, which substantially empowered the subdistrict officials to make them more responsive to citizen appeals. In this project, we access detailed data on more than 7 million “12345” appeals filed between 2014 and 2019, which allows us to observe the needs of citizens across the entire income spectrum, as well as the extent to which these needs get satisfied under changing incentive structures for local bureaucrats. Linking the citizen appeals data to detailed project-level information on fiscal expenditure, we can further investigate the channels through which citizen needs translate into governance outcomes.
The Policy Cost of Nationalism: Evidence from Anti-Japan Protests in China
This paper studies whether anti-Japan protests in China lead to a clash between the Chinese government’s political goal to enhance regime stability and its policy goal to attract foreign investment. We assemble a unique dataset combining detailed information about both online and offline anti-Japan activism, historical records of Sino-Japan conflicts, and a randomized auditing study on local governments’ attitude towards Japanese investors. We find that governments in counties experiencing stronger Sino-Japan conflicts historically are less responsive to Japanese investors (relative to other foreign investors). Although anti-Japan activism in recent years does not affect local governments’ attitude towards Japanese investors, it deters the entry of Japanese investment. These findings suggest that, despite local officials’ strategic reaction, the political use of nationalism can bear a policy cost of hindering local development.
D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
P2 - Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies