Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration


The world is experiencing dramatic fiscal reconstruction in the socialist and (former) socialist countries and of continuing and fascinating evolution of government structure elsewhere. Being one of the fastest growing economies over the past nearly three decades, China seems deeply embracing this global mantra of power devolution in her effort to energize local economy that was suffocated in the highly constricted state-planning system. The literature of the Chinese central-local studies suggests that fiscal decentralization from the central government to provincial governments is a key institutional factor to explain Chinese economic success. However, the literature misses various lower levels of government in China. Has the fiscal power been eventually trickled down to them? This is the question addressed in this project. This project makes several contributions to the thriving Chinese central-local study. It brings back the missing local governments in the intergovernmental debate. By linking various local governments with the national government, the findings in this project help to draw a more comprehensive and holistic picture of the intergovernmental fiscal relations in China. Such a study on the evolution of fiscal structure among local governments also adds knowledge to understand the broad economic and administrative transformation in contemporary China. Using the latest datasets of public finance, this project performs a series of statistical analysis to understand if fiscal decentralization has taken place to each level of Chineselocal governments in the reform era. This project also tests the factors that have been widely identified in the classical welfare theory as explanative factors for the fiscal arrangement at different levels of local government. This project finds out that fiscal decentralization fails to capture the main trend of the intergovernmental fiscal relations at various Chinese local governments. Instead, there has been a rather consistent pattern of fiscal centralization across those local governments during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access