Economic Returns to Communist Party Membership: Evidence from Chinese Twins
Pak Wai Liu
This paper empirically estimates the returns to membership of the Chinese Communist Party using unique twins data that the authors collected from urban China. Our ordinary least squares estimate shows that being a Party member increases earnings by 28.1 percent, but when we use a within-twin-pair fixed-effects model, the effect of Party membership all but disappears, which suggests that much of the estimated value of Party membership that is given in the literature is due to the effects of omitted ability or family background. The findings suggest that Party members fare well not because of their special political status per se, but because of the superior ability that allowed them to pass through the strict Party membership selection process.
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