Public Goods and State-Society Relations: An Impact Study of China's Rural Stimulus
15 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2012 Last revised: 5 Jan 2013
Date Written: February 25, 2011
Evidence I present in this paper from two rural surveys — one conducted in 2002 and the other in 2010 — reflects a dramatic and positive turnaround in state-society relations in the Chinese countryside. Information villagers reported in the surveys reflect improvements in public goods provision, household economic conditions, and popular perceptions of the government in the wake of a pro-rural policy shift beginning in 2004 and heightened by China's 2008 economic stimulus plan. The surveys also suggest that public goods are an important reason why statesociety relations have improved. Public goods significantly enhanced villagers' perception that the government cares about their wellbeing. Although every level of government enjoyed a popularity boost from improvements in public goods provision, the greatest gains were made at local levels of the state. At the same time, however, we have reason to question the long-term sustainability of this positive trajectory. Lying beneath these positive trends are ominous signs of potential threats to state-society relations on the horizon.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation