When a central government deals with local demands, it may strengthen political accountability of the local governments by political decentralization or offer benefits through economic assistance. An authoritarian regime uses economic assistance policy because political decentralization may contradict regime survival. Although economic benefits can be used to buy political support, the distribution of these benefits is seldom equal. We argue that the unequal distribution is more salient in regions where ethnic minorities reside because the unusual demographic composition of those areas make it difficult for the national government to evaluate the performance of the local government who is responsible for the distribution of the economic benefits. As a result, economic assistance may backfire in ethnic regions and intensify their existing conflicts. We develop a simple formal model to illustrate our arguments and explore the cases of Xinjiang and Hong Kong for empirical analysis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations