Who Cares About Procedural Fairness? An Experimental Approach to Support for Village Elections



After roughly two decades of village elections, to what extent are high quality local elections consolidated in rural China? While attitudinal and behavioral evidence tell a mixed story, this paper leverages experimental data to understand how the procedural quality of village elections, specifically the methods used to nominate candidates, affects support for elections in rural China. After establishing that procedural fairness has a significant effect on whether villagers support village elections, we explore why this is the case. Using democratic consolidation as an analogy, we explore both instrumental and intrinsic motivations for procedural fairness. Some types of people – namely farmers and wealthy villagers, may value procedural fairness for ego-tropic, instrumental reasons. Alternatively, some may value procedurally fair elections for the expected collective outcomes, such as increased public goods provision. Finally, some individuals likely appreciate procedural fairness as an inherent good. We assess each motivation by interacting nomination procedures with measures of profession, income, village level public goods provision and egalitarian core values. With the exception of farmers, each interaction is significant, suggesting that multiple constituencies value high quality village elections in the countryside, likely, for diverse reasons.


Procedural Fairness Village Elections Instrumental and Intrinsic Value Egalitarian Core Values Interactions 



The authors would like to thank Carrier Currier, Gregory Love, Kristen Parrish, Jim Zink and anonymous reviewers who have provided helpful feedback.


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© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Criminal JusticeCalifornia State UniversityChicoUSA
  2. 2.School of Public AffairsXiamen UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China

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