Do College Graduates Serving as Village Officials Help Rural China?

HKUST IEMS Working Papers No. 2016-39


Guojun He, Shaoda WANG

This study estimates the effect of improved bureaucrat quality on poverty alleviation by exploring a unique human capital reallocation policy in China -- the “College Graduate Village Officials” (CGVOs) program. We find that introducing CGVOs into the village governance system improves the targeting and implementation of central government’s social assistance programs. CGVOs help eligible poor households understand and apply for relevant subsidies, thus increase the number of pro-poor program beneficiaries. Further analysis suggests that CGVOs improve the quality rather than the quantity of village bureaucrats, and their presence reduces elite capture of pro-poor programs.

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