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The rising pattern throughout the years in office implies that Hypothesis 1 is not supported, but whether this is inconsistent with the promotion-for-competition motive or not should be carefully examined. There are potentially two distinct arguments that may reconcile the competition-for-promotion motive with the fact that Hypothesis 1 does not hold. The first argument is that when urban areas expand cities need to convert rural land into urban land. However, rural land is owned collectively by rural residents. Therefore, even if a prefectural leader is ambitious, he or she may need to convert more rural land to urban land first before realizing his or her ambition. In the PRC, various uses of urban land are collectively called construction land, in contrast with land not slated for development. The increase in construction land can be used as a proxy for how much rural land is converted to urban land in a year. Focusing on party secretaries, Panel 1 of Table 6 shows the results when regressing the increase in construction land (in logarithmic form) on the same set of regressors as in Table 3.16 Here, we do not find any significant effects for years in office. This suggests that the proportion of increase in construction land is roughly constant within a prefectural leader's tenure. Hence, if a prefectural leader is ambitious in land sales, we should probably see a larger increase in construction land initially, but we do not see this here.

Table 6. 
Years in Office, Construction Land, and Land Prices
 Panel 1: Years in Office and Construction LandPanel 2: Years in Office and Land Prices
ln(increase in construction land)ln(average price)
TotalResidentialCommercialIndustrial
Variables(1)(2)(3)(4)(1)(2)(3)(4)
years in office −0.186 −0.212 0.00489 0.0189 0.323* 0.369* 0.0552 0.0145 
 (0.400) (0.415) (0.438) (0.459) (0.174) (0.189) (0.221) (0.163) 
(years in office)2 0.0134 0.00819 0.0160 0.0128 −0.00528 −0.00620 −0.00209 −0.00389 
 (0.0176) (0.0188) (0.0168) (0.0180) (0.00413) (0.00446) (0.00574) (0.00525) 
ln(GDP increase) 0.155 0.192       
 (0.159) (0.169)       
ln(GDP)     0.282 0.342 0.547 0.129 
     (0.283) (0.316) (0.408) (0.280) 
ratio of GDPs (tertiary to secondary) 0.840 0.896 0.510 0.537 −0.00209 0.0150 0.271 0.141 
 (0.902) (0.941) (1.019) (1.088) (0.206) (0.194) (0.217) (0.229) 
fraction of 2-stage (total) 0.0159 −0.0469 0.125 0.0761 −0.406**    
 (0.712) (0.712) (0.769) (0.768) (0.197)    
fraction of 2-stage (residential)      −0.316***   
      (0.108)   
fraction of 2-stage (commercial)       −0.331**  
       (0.143)  
fraction of 2-stage (industrial)        −0.0589 
        (0.238) 
ln(budget deficit)  0.195  −0.0129     
  (0.851)  (0.688)     
Constant 2.307 1.945 3.049** 3.040** 4.224** 3.586 2.394 4.158** 
 (1.488) (1.765) (1.348) (1.515) (2.003) (2.253) (2.871) (1.982) 
Prefecture-(Party-Secretary) FE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Prefecture-Mayor FE         
Year FE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Observations 892 867 941 916 1,557 1,600 1,580 1,582 
R2 0.769 0.772 0.760 0.763 0.872 0.903 0.809 0.759 
 Panel 1: Years in Office and Construction LandPanel 2: Years in Office and Land Prices
ln(increase in construction land)ln(average price)
TotalResidentialCommercialIndustrial
Variables(1)(2)(3)(4)(1)(2)(3)(4)
years in office −0.186 −0.212 0.00489 0.0189 0.323* 0.369* 0.0552 0.0145 
 (0.400) (0.415) (0.438) (0.459) (0.174) (0.189) (0.221) (0.163) 
(years in office)2 0.0134 0.00819 0.0160 0.0128 −0.00528 −0.00620 −0.00209 −0.00389 
 (0.0176) (0.0188) (0.0168) (0.0180) (0.00413) (0.00446) (0.00574) (0.00525) 
ln(GDP increase) 0.155 0.192       
 (0.159) (0.169)       
ln(GDP)     0.282 0.342 0.547 0.129 
     (0.283) (0.316) (0.408) (0.280) 
ratio of GDPs (tertiary to secondary) 0.840 0.896 0.510 0.537 −0.00209 0.0150 0.271 0.141 
 (0.902) (0.941) (1.019) (1.088) (0.206) (0.194) (0.217) (0.229) 
fraction of 2-stage (total) 0.0159 −0.0469 0.125 0.0761 −0.406**    
 (0.712) (0.712) (0.769) (0.768) (0.197)    
fraction of 2-stage (residential)      −0.316***   
      (0.108)   
fraction of 2-stage (commercial)       −0.331**  
       (0.143)  
fraction of 2-stage (industrial)        −0.0589 
        (0.238) 
ln(budget deficit)  0.195  −0.0129     
  (0.851)  (0.688)     
Constant 2.307 1.945 3.049** 3.040** 4.224** 3.586 2.394 4.158** 
 (1.488) (1.765) (1.348) (1.515) (2.003) (2.253) (2.871) (1.982) 
Prefecture-(Party-Secretary) FE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Prefecture-Mayor FE         
Year FE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Observations 892 867 941 916 1,557 1,600 1,580 1,582 
R2 0.769 0.772 0.760 0.763 0.872 0.903 0.809 0.759 

FE = fixed effects, GDP = gross domestic product.

Notes: Data on the length of terms for prefectural party secretaries and mayors are from authors' collection. GDP data are from City Statistics Yearbook. Land data are from the website of the Ministry of Land and Resources. Standard errors are clustered at the province level and shown in parentheses. All the regressions in this table are for party secretaries. In the People's Republic of China, various uses of urban land are collectively called construction land in contrast with land that is not for development. *** = p < .01, ** = p < .05, * = p < 0.1.

Source: Authors’ calculations.

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