Income and Communist Party membership in urban China

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Philip K. Robins - Committee Chair


This study provides for the first time a systematic empirical examination of the relationship between membership in the Chinese Communist Party and individual or household income. Using unique data from the 1988 Chinese Household Income Survey, functions for various components of income, such as wages, housing and ration coupon subsidies, and income in kind are estimated. Party membership is found to have a significant positive effect on most of these income components, with the strongest effects being on housing subsidies and wages.Since simple OLS regression may suffer from selection bias arising from the endogeneity of Party membership, this study develops an economic analysis of Party membership selection. A model of joint membership/income determination is then estimated using Heckman/Lee's two stage selection-bias-correction methodology. For both men and women, the empirical results reject the hypothesis that the observed Party income premium results from a positive productivity bias. The results provide evidence that the expected income prospects in the Party influence a man's decision to join the Party; however, no such evidence exists for women.


Economics, Labor; Political Science, General

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