Munich Personal RePEc Archive

An Economic Analysis of Political Meritocracy

Chu, Angus C. and Kou, Zonglai and Wang, Xilin (2020): An Economic Analysis of Political Meritocracy.

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Abstract

The political system in China is often referred to as political meritocracy. This study develops a simple model of political economy to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a meritocratic system (in which political meritocrats design economic policies) relative to a democratic system (dominated by the median voter). We find that political meritocrats would choose economic policies that are more conducive to economic activities and lead to higher income but less public goods. Whether the meritocratic or democratic equilibrium achieves a higher level of social welfare depends on the distribution of individuals' abilities. If the ability of the median voter is lower than the mean of the population, then the meritocratic equilibrium may achieve a higher level of social welfare than the democratic equilibrium. In this case, there is a threshold degree of political inclusiveness in the meritocratic system above which political meritocracy dominates democracy in terms of social welfare, and this threshold degree of political inclusiveness is increasing in the ability of the median voter.

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