Social ties and the selection of China's political elite

Raymond Fisman, Jing Shi, Yongxiang Wang, Weixing Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


We study how sharing a hometown or college connection with an incumbent member of China's Politburo affects a candidate's likelihood of selection as a new member. In specifications that include fixed effects to absorb quality differences across cities and colleges, we find that hometown and college connections are each associated with 5-9 percentage point reductions in selection probability. This "connections penalty" is equally strong for retiring Politburo members, arguing against quota-based explanations, and it is much stronger for junior Politburo members, consistent with a role for intra-factional competition. Our findings differ from earlier work because of our emphasis on within-group variation, and our focus on shared hometown and college— rather than shared workplace–connections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1752-1781
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Social ties
  • political connections
  • political elite


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