Does Media Reporting on Corruption Influence Beliefs About Fairness?

Xincheng Ge (New York University)
Y. Jane Zhang (University of New South Wales)

Abstract : How do people interpret government corruption reported in the media? We use corruption news released by the anti-corruption campaign in China that began in 2013 to causally examine its impact on people’s self-reported views toward fairness in society. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that corruption news deteriorates belief in fairness. The results are robust after controlling for regional cultural differences and local corruption severity. The possibility of reversal causality is addressed by controlling for prior corruption awareness. To examine the channel through which corruption news affects beliefs, we use novel Baidu Searching Index data for the term “anti-corruption (fanfu)” as a proxy for corruption awareness. Our analysis shows that corruption exposure increased corruption awareness and that an increase in awareness is associated with greater deterioration in belief in fairness. This indicates that the anti-corruption campaign increased people’s awareness about the severity of corruption and suggests that the campaign may have had unintended consequences for social stability.

Ideology and Human Capital: How Imperial China Was Democratized

James Kung (University of Hong Kong)
Yue Wang (University of Hong Kong)

Abstract : By employing the number of Chinese studying in Japan to proxy for the effect of exposure to a democratic-cum-nationalist ideology in the context of the 1911 Chinese Revolution, we find that an additional overseas student in a county can significantly account for higher participation in democratic parties (0.234-0.239), greater representation in the provincial assembly (0.328-0.437), and more frequent upheavals (0.238-0.368) in that county. But the effects of ideology are heterogeneous, patterned systematically upon academic specialization and level of educational attainment. In particular, upheavals were distinctly more frequent in counties where the overseas students predominantly majored in arts and social sciences.